Friday, October 10, 2014

Thoughts after 10 days of intentional positivity

Two Fridays ago I had a moment of teaching that I wasn't proud of. In a moment of frustration I literally screamed "No, No, No!" while throwing papers on my desk. I don't normally throw temper tantrums, and I was really upset with myself. So, after beating myself up for the weekend, I decided to make a drastic change. For one week, I was going to think positive, act positive, and speak positive. I wanted to see what choosing to look on the bright side would do for me professionally and personally.

So last Monday, I entered the classroom with an intentionally sunny attitude. I have a really tough class this year, and I wanted to see what my attitude would do for me.  To be honest, that first day seemed like the world, my class and my life were conspiring to steal my positivity.  But I made it through, and by Wednesday I realized things were getting easier.  A few days in, my class got in trouble for being negative in their speech about another teacher, and I wondered if I should share with them the way I was challenging myself to look at the positive.  So I told them the whole story to try to build some morale.  And here's where I totally underestimated my students, something that I'm not super proud about either.

13 of them asked to join me.  

So for a week, 14 of us chose to look at the positive and decided we would check in together at the end. Their written checkins made me realize what a cool thing we had done together.  With no identifiers, here are some of the things they said.

"I realized that I was doing better in school and work was easier to get done.  I had more free time because staying positive helped me get started on work faster without complaining."

"Choosing the positivity challenge was an easy choice. I want to be a better friend and peer."

"I noticed that me being positive made other people be positive also."

And this one was so good I am sharing the whole paragraph:
"I think I had a good experience attempting the positivity challenge. I not only noticed that the people around me were happier, but I was as well.  This week I had a hard time trying to stay positive, but I think if I tried it more often, it would get easier to notice the good rather than the bad.  I think being positive is hard because we see others as competition, not friends. It's easier to put someone down to put yourself up than to put someone else up and have people think better of you.  If we all just tried to be positive for one day, we'd know more about each other and make new friends."

I couldn't have said that better myself.   Our classroom truly was a different place this week.