Are you setting up your class for a fun, positive holiday season or setting yourself up for a stressful few months? As we enter the busyness of November and December, it can be a trying time for both teachers and students, but staying positive through the craziness of holidays and parent teacher conferences is key to keep learning the focus during this stressful time of year.
I’m sure as you read the title you were thinking it was a little Pollyanna, just be positive and all will be ok. Well, that is not quite what I had in mind. Yes, maintaining a positive attitude is important, but you can’t just say you’re going to have a positive attitude, you have to be intentional about it.
I’m lucky that my school has built in ways to recognize positive behaviors. We have a school wide positive recognition program in the form of Student of the Month (each teacher recognizes a specific student), ROARS (positive cards given to students who can use them to enter drawings for student store certificates or a pizza lunch with friends) and Positive Recognition forms (once filled out by a teacher, student behavior is personally acknowledged by our administration and their name is placed in school newspaper).
But I’ve worked at schools that didn’t have these things in place and had to learn how to intentional about recognizing the positive behaviors in class.
Here are FOUR ways to be intentionally positive this time of year:
1. Start each day new
Ok, here’s the Pollyanna statement in this post. It’s cliché I know, but it is true. If you start each day with a renewed attitude instead of dread or counting down the days until break, it will make each class period more enjoyable. Leave the stress of yesterday and the stress of the family get together last night behind and believe that today is going to be a great day!
While I’m not always successful at this, when I can do it, it works. When I don’t let yesterday’s bad behavior affect my attitude toward a student today, in most cases, I can turn the student around.
2. Positive Phone Calls (or email)
I’ve blogged about this before, but it warrants another mention here. This time of year is not only stressful for students and teachers, but parents as well. Imagine how amazing it would be to receive a call from school stating how well your students is doing. If you have a few unpleasant calls to make, throw in a few positive calls (emails work too). This will help boost your mood and keep your focus on the positive things students are doing.
3. Student Choice
Take a look at your lesson plans, do they include student choice? There are many reasons to include student choice in assignments, but as it relates to staying positive, if you’ve given students choice in what they are learning (or how they are learning), they will be more engaged in the learning. They will look forward to coming to class and bring their own positive attitude with them.
4. Classroom Environment
Look around your room. Have you changed your Back-to-School bulletin board? Have your created an inviting atmosphere where students want to come every day? In my early career, I changed my entire room every quarter – crazy to think about that now. But I still try to change somethings throughout the year. I have inspirational posters that I hang up and take down, I add student work to bulletin boards and make sure the information students see in my room is relevant to what we are learning. It is amazing how a little change in environment can change your perspective.
When you are intentional about being positive, it will help you see the students that are really trying and still working. It will help you enjoy what I call the most stressful time of year as a teacher next to the end of the year. Don’t just endure these days, enjoy them!