Teachers, We Need to Choose To See The Positives

Teachers, we really are our own worst enemies.

We could have the greatest, most incredible, lesson that connects to kids’ prior experiences and interests, builds up a sense of fun and excitement, is perfectly (and actually) differentiated to allow every student to learn, has so many lightbulb moments happening that you might be tricked into thinking an Ibiza strobe light has somehow made its way into your classroom…all capped off with that ever elusive reflection that goes the full 360 degrees as students reference your clearly delivered learning intention from the beginning.

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#micdrop #nailedit #dustyourshouldersoff

Then.

Oh, God. Then the ‘Then’ kicks in.

Then we focus on the one minuscule thing we possibly, maybe, slightly missed. Or didn’t expertly nail as much as all the other aspects of our lesson, morning or whole day.

Why do we always do this to ourselves?

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Now, I know within Australian society there very much is this ‘Tall Poppy Sydrome’ that can prevent people from aspiring or seeking to stand proud of something.

Though, I can’t help but think that when our ancestors first started putting our other ancestors back into their figurative boxes, it was because they were trying to knock the cockiness and arrogance out of people.

When did we get to a point where we can’t celebrate and acknowledge that something went really well for us?

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I just went to feel proud and I think I might have vomited in my mouth a little.

Just this week I was speaking with one of my team members about her class. We were chatting about the shift she has been seeing in her room. Her kids have suddenly been showing an amazing ability to independently manage themselves within their reading block… after she spent two terms constantly investing some a huge amount of energy, time and effort to set up these expectations.

It was the half a second pause after she said the words “manage themselves” that I saw the ‘Teacher Grimace’ emerge on my teammate’s face.

You know that grimace. It’s the shift from a grin that usually befalls a teacher as a tiny moment from a lesson or discussion crosses our mind. A student briefly not listening, us responding to a student calling out, not waiting a full two seconds before asking for a response…or, OR, having our reading session go 7 minutes over our expected time.

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It’s 10:07am and I’m only just about move into Writing…what the hell am I doing?!

There it was, this HUGE milestone of teaching right there in front of both my teammate and I. Ready to be acknowledged and celebrated…when it was all too quickly burned up with a sudden statement:

“Yeah, but there’s this one person who still just isn’t getting the routine as much as the others.”

(Re-read that sentence. The kid gets the routine and still follows it at times, just not as well as the other TWENTY FOUR students who are all doing it.)

Why is it that so many of us, as teachers, always get drawn back into only seeing those things we may have missed or not demonstrated as well as we hoped for?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for learning by doing, using mistakes for learning and investing time, effort and repeated practise to improve.

However, I equally believe in coming from a strength base. Knowing the skills, knowledge, understandings and dispositions we are strong in using, modelling and teaching to others.

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It was at this point that I couldn’t help myself. I had to jump in…

Me: “So, all the other kids are following the routine?”

Legendary Teammate: “..Yeah”

Me: “24 kids are all following the routine and actually know what they’re doing?”

Legendary Teammate: “…Yeah”

Me: “That is amazing! That is awesome – you must be so pumped!”

Legendary Teammate: [Cue slightly stifled smile breaking out]

Yes, we aren’t perfect and we never will be. Ever.

But, at some point every day you do something really well. Something great. Something incredible. Something amazing. Something inspiring.

Every day.

Knowing Head Nod By Kid President

And do you know what is even better to realise? So does your colleague next door or down the corridor.

It’s about time we start to make time to remember those minuscule, little, large or GIGANTIC moments of success or strength that happen in our classrooms.

It can be daunting to fight that weird voice that can sometimes be in our head telling us not to share something we are proud of, but like Dr Maya Angelou said, courage starts with small steps.

Share one thing you believe went well in a lesson…to yourself.

Then build it up.

Keep looking for those quick wins or small victories you may have noticed for your colleague. Simply tell what you saw, heard or noticed. If they do what a lot of us do and try to downplay it, or find a negative, just restate what you saw, heard or notice, throw two thumbs up and a smile.

(Then leave, walk away, or just continue talking about the next topic. Don’t stand there with the thumbs still up, smiling. People will find this weird.)

Forget the tall poppies, let’s help each other grow proud ones.

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