Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Focus on the Good

I think Luke was in first grade when we started, or it could have been even earlier. Luke can tend to focus on the negative. He comes by it honestly, I have to confess. Where I am an eternal optimist, my wonderful husband would absolutely own the fact that he often sees the glass as half empty. (He would also have me point out that he's working on this.) 

At any rate, when Luke came home from school in those first few weeks of first grade and I asked him how his day went, he would begin to list all of the things that happened that were "bad." I would attempt to state that surely something good happened that day, but Luke would grasp on to the negative moments and I began to worry. And so began our tradition of "tell me three." The rule that year became this, whenever I saw Luke (and Liam, who was in preschool and pretty positive, but he was included) after school, they had to tell me three positives about their day. Once that was done, if they had a negative they wanted to share, they were welcome to do so, but the positives had to come first. 

This was not easy at the beginning. Luke would tell me that he couldn't possibly tell me three positive things, nothing positive had happened that day. I'd ask if a friend smiled at him, if he had food to eat, if his teacher was kind, etc. Gradually, it got easier. I'm a firm believer in the notion that negativity or positivity can grow when you give it attention. Luke taught me that and I've never forgotten.

In any given school year this idea is put into practice in my classroom. I can choose to focus on a kid's misbehavior in my room, or I can focus on the good stuff that is happening. Of course, there are some behaviors you cannot ignore when they happen. However, if someone isn't focusing, or turning their work in, or are talking to their neighbor, etc., I try hard not to focus on it. I look for the kids that are always doing the right thing, and there are a heck of a lot of those. I want to make sure they know that I see them. I want to pour as much light into my students, into our classroom. If I believe the class can do good things, if they know I believe it, we can accomplish a hell of a lot more than if I assume it's going to all go south any minute.

We've had more challenging students in the last few years and I don't see that changing anytime soon. I want to remind myself on a daily basis to look for the good, to be the good. Environment is critical, morale is critical - for the teachers and the students. So I'm asking you, as I look to continue this work in my class, what do you do at your schools (or have you in the past) that you feel help promote a positive and welcoming learning environment? What do you feel helps boost teacher and/or student morale? 

Thanks for sharing!