As you all probably know, I spend a lot of time reading and listening to podcasts. The positive to that is that often some of my most exciting ideas come from that learning. The negative is sometimes a line sticks, but I’m not sure where I picked it up – that’s the issue for today. I have this quote that’s been bouncing around in my mind since I heard it a few weeks ago, but I can’t recall who said it. I like to credit others when I can, but this is one that I just don’t know who to credit:
Think about it – if you’re thinking about something positive, it’s hard to also devote thinking time to the things that are causing you stress. As some might say, if we’re practicing gratitude, we are feeding the positives. And if you’re anything like me, your own worst critic lives inside of your brain. If we spend too much time listening to ourselves, we might start to believe it. So, I challenge you to seek out moments to talk to yourself instead – call out the good things happening, whether they are in your professional life or your personal life. Notice that difference? Listening to ourselves is a passive activity and our negative thoughts can spiral out of control. Talking to ourselves is an active way of noticing the good. It will really lift our spirits!
As we wrap up the end of the semester and move towards winter break, and knowing that there are plenty of opportunities to find stress this time of year, I want to devote this week’s post entirely to some of the things that I’m grateful for.
- Our students – One of my favorite moments of the day is during morning bus duty. Seeing our students as they get off the bus, the little moments of connection, a chat about something they are excited about, or simply giving them a high five will always bring a smile to my face. I’m an educator today because I truly love kids and I want to be able to support them in their path. That process of support is made easier when I know our students, and when I have relationships with our students. As a parent myself, I also know that there is a great responsibility for all of us to take care of every child while they are here at school. I take that to heart and work hard to give each child what they need to be successful at this moment.
- A staff that loves to laugh and learn together – In my almost 20 years of working in education, I have had the privilege of working in several different schools and with several different teams. I have always been grateful for the relationships I have built with my colleagues. Currently, I work with a team who always refers to our relationship as one of a family. This work family can find joy and laughter in the little moments with our students – both the good moments and the ones that can be a little rough. We can support one another in moments of difficulty – both professionally and personally. We also can help hold one another accountable to being our best. You know there is a good culture in a building when our relationships are strong enough to maintain accountability. Finally, I love that we are all willing to learn from one another. The other day I was chatting with a teacher as she was adding some data into a notebook. I was blown away by the level of organization and thought that had gone into creating and maintaining this data and how the teacher utilized that notebook to drive instruction in the classroom. When I asked about it, she shared with me that she had learned how to track data in this way from a colleague. Whether we’re learning together in formal professional development, or just in our own self-improvement in the craft of education, the great work happening here is spreading!
- The investment our district and school have made in Restorative Practices – As a leader in several buildings, I have led a lot of different professional development activities. One of the things that leaders do not often hear about these PD sessions is how enjoyable or interesting they are. Earlier this year, I was able to work with a leadership team here at my building to help lead training in restorative practices. After the session was over, several teachers stopped me and shared with me how much they appreciated the training, what they enjoyed about it, or something they had learned. Positive feedback like that is great, but when it comes on a topic that I also feel could have a powerful positive impact on all the students that attend our school, that positive feedback feels even better. I so appreciate getting to work in a district that has chosen to make a massive investment in our students and staff in terms of widespread restorative practices training. Since our training a little more than a month ago, I have already seen some shifts in language and practices within our building.
These are just a few of the things in my professional life that I am feeling grateful for right now. As you have time over the coming break, I encourage you to take a few moments and practice some gratitude. I can tell you that while I was working on this post, the stresses in my life were able to disappear from my brain for just a little bit. The more we find ways to practice gratitude, the easier it is to find things that we are grateful for. And as a side tip – take the time to write it down. If you are a journal keeper, start adding a gratitude section. If journaling isn’t your thing, you could use the notes app on your phone, or something like that, to jot down a couple things you are grateful for every day.