Teaching a Positive Attitude

 In these posts, my schedule has been to write about techniques used in my classroom for two weeks and then write about an actual student or event in my classroom for the nextA game of domino tumbling two weeks, usually leaving you hanging as how it will end.  Someone always writes me saying that they can’t believe I am making them wait until the following week to read the ending.  Following this schedule means this week I should be posting the first part about a student or event in my classroom. However, I will be going on my Spring Break this weekend so I will not be posting again until April 3rd, making you wait two weeks instead of one.  With this in mind, I’m deviating from the schedule and posting another technique I use in my classroom instead.

I believe in teaching accountability and responsibility for the choices we make in life.  I believe in being a positive person.  In fact, I have been introduced as a “Pollyanna who wears rose-colored glasses and drinks from a glass half-full and is actually grateful to have a glass, even if it’s empty.”  I also believe it is very important that we explicitly teach to our students accountability, responsibility, and positivity in relation to attitude.  I’m always looking for ways to do this.  Years ago, at the end of the day, I had my students tell me two things that happened to them that made their days go well.  However, as I noted in my post about complacency, it is easy to forget the little things that we do that make our children’s lives a little better.  I started doing this activity again this year, and I LOVE how it ends the day on a positive note for each student.

At the end of the day, I stand in the doorway and ask each child to “tell me two good things that happened to you today.”  I want them to respond with things like “I followed the rules,” “I stopped talking to others,” “I listened to the teacher,” or “I worked my best;” you get the picture.  But, what I got instead was “I got all my pay,” “I got to be Operation Officer,” or “I didn’t get demoted.”  On the surface, these sound like perfectly good answers, but they don’t teach the students the relationship of responsibility and accountability in relation to their own actions.  Instead, these positive outcomes are the effects of their choices, not the causes.  These answers don’t teach awareness of how their choices are the cause of the good things happening to them each day.  I obviously needed to go back to the drawing board and come up with a slightly different phrase.  Now at the end of each day, I ask my students to “tell me two things you did that made you successful today.”  The answers are very different and in line with the concept of their choices being the causes of the effects.  The students will sometimes give an old response, to which I simply reply that that is not what made them successful, but that was a result of what they did; they eventually come up with an appropriate answer.

Depending on how many students you have and how many periods you see them, you may need to do this at the end of each period, or Row One-Monday, Row Two-Tuesday, and so on, or have them write it down in a journal to be checked at the end of the week.  There are any number of ways to make this work in your classroom. For parents, this would be a terrific activity to do with your child before s/he goes to bed each night.

This simple activity creates another positive interaction between the two of us just before they leave to go home and it gives me one last one-on-one teachable moment. Before they walk out, I always tell each one of my students how grateful I am s/he is in my class.

If you don’t already do this, I challenge you to start this activity today in your classroom or in your home.

I’m off to Cabo San Lucas this weekend to enjoy my Spring Break, where my friends and I are going to celebrate my 50th birthday early, and enjoy time doing a variety of fun activities together.  Cabo is the place where my sweetheart, Ron, wanted to take me before he died.  He had many great memories there with family and friends, so we will have one special day planned in memory of him.

See you on April 3rd.

Be kinder than necessary, be grateful, and make it a peace-filled two weeks,

Ms. Brown

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One Response to Teaching a Positive Attitude

  1. Trisa says:

    Great ideas, Jerilyn! Have a wonderful trip! I’ll be thinking of you having a great time.

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