I tend to stay relatively calm even when the seas are choppy. I try to look for the learning in a situation rather than creating a complaint when things don’t go well. I look for reasons when I see someone’s behaviour that is rude or negative. I try not to jump to conclusions by assigning intent when I really don’t know.
But, by no means am I perfect. I’m quite imperfect actually.
I have my moments of frustration and if you hang out around me often enough you will see me get a tad ‘grumpy’ every now and then. I get like this when when I’m especially tired or overwhelmed — or when everything around me seems to be an overly dramatic soap-opera.
Being positive is often a choice. So, I work to choose positivity whenever I can. I think better. I respond better. I know I make better decisions.
But, can one’s positive mindset actually make a difference in other areas?
Research seems to think so. We’ve all heard of the placebo effect and how someone with a positive mindset about a drug or therapy can help overcome a physical ailment of some kind. And while it might seem obvious, I went looking for some evidence to see if there is any link between a positive attitude and a better educational experience.
Last year at about this same time, I wrote a blog post about the importance of hope and light in many cultures around the world (‘Tis the Season for Hope). This year, I want to continue along that theme and discuss the importance of traditions or rituals at this time of year. Things like festive music, seasonal food and decorations make this time of year truly sparkle.
In education, we also have traditions at this time — Report cards and Parent-teacher Interviews come to mind.
I know, I know, I know — WOW! We really know how to capture that festive spirit!
Actually, I was in a couple of schools recently and they already have some decorations up for the season. The mood was festive, fun and happy. One little girl was so excited to tell me about the Elf-on-the-Shelf that just showed up in her classroom — “It’s magic. She just appeared out of no where!” Seeing that pure joy reminded me that traditions are so critical to that sense of belonging.
Before I get too far into this blog post, I need to give credit to Chris Smeaton who shared his concept of ‘Failing Forward’ a few years ago when he was Superintendent of an Alberta school division. He has since retired, but is still influential in the educational field. Chris is a quality person who believes in the possible — a leader who builds a culture of risk taking and emotional support — someone who embraces the idea of failure being a springboard to better things.
Our conversation was about 3 years ago at a conference table. I loved the visual imagery of his ‘failing forward’ message.
Even if you’re experiencing a temporary pause in your momentum, you can still move forward if you’re supported and encouraged, but not if you’re condemned for your mistake during your exploration of something new.