Sunday, March 1, 2015

Slice of Life: Positive Thinking

I am participating again this year in the Slice of Life challenge in which we write a slice every day in March.  If you are interested in joining in, visit the Two Writing Teachers blog for more information.

It has been a long while since I have written on this blog.  Coming back here to get started with my Slice of Life challenge, I stumbled across the beginning of a post that was started in August and never finished. It seems appropriate to revise my words and add my perspective at this point in the school year. I am glad for the reminder to celebrate!

     I forgot what it feels like to be excited about my job. I have spent the last few years working to make the best of my situation rather than working to have an awesome situation. I worked hard in the last two years to find fun and engaging activities and to inspire readers and writers. I think I did okay at it. I can think of at least five students who started the year hating reading and writing and ended the year loving both. That is success when you are talking about changing mindsets of 8th grade students. The majority of the students became better readers and realized that reading can be fun. My students all wrote novels for NaNoWriMo and maintained blogs. They all figured out how to write better and how to find enjoyment in that writing. These were also successes.
      However, I didn't take the time to celebrate these things. I focused on the negative. The students who continued to fake read and barely write. I let them get to me. I went against my nature and fell down the rabbit hole of excuses for their behaviors. I let myself be influenced into complaining about that which I could not change and not focusing on the good things happening and the ways that I could change some things. This had to do with internal and external factors alike: some toxic influences, a negative pattern in my thoughts, a boss who tended to be negative, etc.
     This year, I am surrounded by positive thinking and good attitudes. I am conscious of the need to find celebrations even in the weeks that seem impossible to get through. I have changed my perspective and I enjoy my work again. Part of the issue is the ability to work with the age group that I most enjoy working with. After working at many different levels, I am convinced that every teacher has an age group that is the most natural fit for him/her. Mine is middle grades. I am so much more myself when working with 4th graders than I was when working with 1st graders or with 8th graders. I can be myself and love my students and get hugs and drawings and notes that make me smile. There is so much more energy in my step, and I have so much more energy to give.
     Does that make my workplace perfect? No. I still struggle this year with students who are incredibly chatty and some that are just not very nice to their peers. I still have a few students who choose not to be convinced that reading is a good thing to do. I have a lot of students who don't really know how to be polite...they need my guidance to help them learn what is respectful and what is not. I have a hard time getting through my whole lesson because there is little impulse control in this group and I get interrupted. Every. Single. Lesson. However, my ability to continue to plug away and to try to make this year a great one for my class is directly related to my change in attitude. I have lifted a weight of negativity off my shoulders and this makes it easier to persevere.

The power of positive thinking is mind-blowing and I am so glad I have rediscovered this power.


  1. Making each day better than the one before is my overarching theme for the month of March's writing. This speaks to me because I find myself wallowing in the negatives a lot. Why can't some kids just enjoy reading or at least find it useful enough to do it even if they don't like it?! But, I have 11 kids who have decided to devote themselves to this writing challenge. Rather than look at the 79 kids who didn't decide to take the challenge, I am focusing - and celebrating the 11 who did it!

  2. It's easy to get into a rut and to fixate on the negative rather than the positive, especially when trying to instill a love of reading into kids. I teach seniors, and many come to me never having read a book in high school. They fake read. I have found giving them some choice in their reading (lots of ways to do this) works miracles. BTW, I loved 4th grade.

  3. I did student teaching in third and that remains my favorite...I work with 3rd-6th ESL students, so I guess it's not that great to have a favorite. The truth is, I have some wonderful and some challenging students in each grade. I want to be the best teacher for each one of them. Our school underwent some huge changes at the end of last school year, the beginning of this year, and even more as the year goes on. There's been more negative thinking than positive, and that really takes a toll. Thank you for the reminder of a positive mindset.

  4. I applaud your perseverance and positive outlook- both so valuable in the classroom, as well as life!

  5. I am always so happy to be reminded about positive thinking. I don't think of myself as negative, but I know I can fall into a negative groove easily if I am not watching for it. I would much rather be in a positive groove. Thanks!