“Research has shown that most people choose negative and use up to 80 percent of their days preoccupied with unproductive thoughts…Choose the positive, the constructive. Optimism is a faith that leads to success.”
-Coyte G. Cooper, Ph. D. -Make Your Mark
By Wednesday I had professed that I was having a crappy week. I felt like bad stuff just kept happening. The week consisted of a few angry parents, kids and families in crisis, the lack of substitutes for professional days, a student who said he wanted to kill himself, phone calls from the lawyers of parents in nasty custody battles, and more. I seemed to have forgotten that I had a choice. I allowed myself to get bogged down in the negative. I could have chosen to find the good in the situations that occurred, but instead I complained; I rolled my eyes; I had a “woe is me” attitude. I was exhausted. Everything felt chaotic.
I shared my frustrations with a good friend and colleague of mine. To my surprise, bright and early the next morning he showed up in my office with hot chocolate for my secretaries and me. He told us that he hoped we had a better day. Those few kind words and that small act of kindness changed my mindset. When my mindset changed I was able to see the good in the events I encountered. That small act of kindness allowed me to reflect on the week and realize that a lot of good came out of every situation:
-The angry parents just cared about their kids and needed an explanation. Then everything worked out.
-The family in crisis had just moved to our school from a terribly unsafe situation. We were able to help them get back on their feet with new coats, new clothes and connections to resources they needed.
-We rescheduled our professional development.
-We kept a child safe and made parents aware of how sad their son was. We were able to direct them to resources so they could help their child.
In the midst of a bad day or a bad moment it is hard to stay positive. It’s a skill that I need to build. Positivity is powerful. Small acts of kindness are powerful, too. This week I learned so much. I’m thankful for the difficult situations that helped me grow. And, I’m thankful that my friend Herb reminded me that the littlest gesture can make a big impact.
Spread a little joy. Choose positive.
Educators are given a special gift each and every school year. Each year of our teaching career we meet new students and families. One of the most amazing blessings in my life have been the way in which so many of my students have touched my heart. I’m sure that every educator can look back over his or her career and think about all of the students from whom you have learned so much. While we love all of our students, there are always a few who touch our hearts in special ways.
Six years ago I met a little 6 year old boy, he touched my heart because of the pure chaos that was his life. When I met him, I was a working as a full time literacy coach and was completing an internship with my principal for my administrative license. This little boy was troubled. He was angry. He was covered in flea bites and his clothes were dirty. He wore glasses but they were broken. This little boy threw chairs and yelled at his teacher. And his teacher, who is one of the kindest people you have ever met, bought him new glasses and gave him clean clothes. On several occasions this little boy became so angry that my principal had to restrain him. He called Children’s Services in hopes of getting help for this sweet child. This little boy’s teacher and principal tried hard to help make his life better.
The next school year I was at a different school as the principal. However, over the next few years, I often thought about this sad little boy. I wondered what had become of him, and prayed that his life had improved. I hoped and prayed that the system worked for him.
Just yesterday I sat on my living room couch reading his obituary. He was 11 years old. He killed himself.
He had no voice.
The teachers, principals and caring adults in his life tried to give him a voice. The system failed him.
Educators I implore you to continue to be the voice for the voiceless. Fight the fight worth fighting. Our job is so important. Academics are just a small portion of the impact we make in the lives of children. Don’t let our current political debates distract you from the important work that we do each day.
We couldn’t save this child, but hopefully we can learn from this tragedy.
Fight the fight worth fighting.
Have you ever taken time to connect the dots of your life? Have you ever sat back and thought about all of the steps that have gotten you to where you are right now in this very moment? In everyone’s life there are people we meet, things we do, and choices we make that seem to open new doors, opportunities and experiences for us. But, have you ever really taken the time to think about how each small step in the journey through life has gotten you to where you are today?
Over the past few weeks, I have been reflecting on the steps in my own journey and, let me tell you, it’s been quite a humbling experience. It’s awe inspiring to think back and realize how each seemingly small step in my life was really much greater and much more important than I realized in the moment.
This reflection has led me to choose my ONE WORD for 2017. That word is JOURNEY. This year I want to be more aware of my own journey and the journey of others. I want to be careful about my steps along the path of my journey. I want to wisely choose responses to events that happen. I want to enjoy the journey and each small step along it. I want to make sure that my actions and responses create positive events for others as they also travel along the path of their own journey. I want to be a positive force, an energy giver and an inspiration. But, in order to accomplish this, I need to remember that every step matters. If I mess up or misstep, it’s okay to take a step back and try again. The journey is not about the destination. Instead, the journey is about the small steps that make it up.
It’s exhilarating to think that we are embarking on a new year, which is a brand new part of our journey. It’s exciting to think that in a year from now we can look back at the steps we took and connect all the dots. My wish is that we can take risks, learn new things, overcome challenges and be better tomorrow than we were today. Enjoy the JOURNEY and may 2017 be an amazing ride.
I hope my blog posts inspire risk taking and new ways of thinking. I hope to connect with other educators on our journey to always do what's best for children.