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Recently a Guidance Counselor wanted to thank me for some things I had done for one of my students. She sat me down and said that thanks to me and another teacher, the trajectory of this child’s life had changed for the better. As she was telling me this, I knew it was true, but also didn’t see anything I had done as out of the ordinary. I had made a connection, listened, set boundaries and goals, held him to high standards and coached him through some mistakes. It is essentially what I do everyday, what many of my colleagues do every day.

I started to respond and brush it off – or at least down play my role in all of it and she cut me off. She said that my interest and commitment to what is right provided this kid with a new option, a new glimpse at himself for the future and it is about time I gave myself a pat on the back because that is exactly what she was going to do. I thought about it for a moment. I said thank you. She thanked me and we moved on to something else.

This moment stuck with me though. I really let my heart and mind marinate on her words. It got me to thinking, as teachers in a broken system, we are beat down and trudging through a tunnel of shortcomings, failing to meet benchmarks and looking at where we need to have/provide/do more. What would happen if I took even five minutes of my day to look at it all through the lens of achievement and success? What would happen if I took even the smallest moments of accomplishment and made them the star of my thoughts?

So I did it.

I spent five minutes reflecting on my contributions to a student’s success. Very quickly five minutes was up and I was feeling great. I was smiling and encouraged and motivated. Five minutes of fabulous. Then I started to think, isn’t it a good thing to recognize in yourself and others the positive contributions we make? Why is it that teachers especially are being forced to focus on the work not yet conquered when flipping your mind to the celebrations of achievement encourage you to do MORE?

Since this chat with the guidance counselor, I have increased my dedicated celebration time to 15 minutes. This may sound silly but while at work, I am forcing myself to take at least 15 minutes and see all my work through a celebration lens. It is amazing.

Today I celebrated helping a new Senior student get involved with the Band. He was a transfer student and very shy. I knew he could play many instruments from a connection I made with him at the beginning of the school year. So when he was doing poorly in an AP Chem class ( he didn’t even need to take) I suggested that if his parents take him out of the class, they get him a music class or allow him to have a jam session lunch with one of our music teachers. I had already cleared it with the music teacher. The parents thought about it and eventually took him out the class. Today, I had the pleasure of walking through the Auditorium to see him warming up for a concert and preparing to play at the January Graduation ceremonies. He smiled from ear to ear and waved to me like an excited little kid. It lit up my heart and I reminded myself, I helped make this moment. It felt great and makes me want to make more moments like it.

So why not…why not take five, fifteen, or fifty minutes each day to refocus and re-frame your day on the contributions you’ve made to happiness? It is soul preserving goodness and is helping me be a better teacher and person, fifteen minutes at a time. I encourage anyone reading this to try it. Right now even. Pat yourself on the back for helping someone have a better day. Well done, you.