This year I set five goals. The third of which is to use and inspire positive language and outlook in my classroom and my life. When my first niece, Cynde, was born 34 years ago, I realized the huge responsibility of being an aunt. I could remember words that my own aunts had used when I was a child. I knew that someday my darling niece would remember something, anything, that I said to her. I knew I couldn't predict what she would or wouldn't remember, so I better be sure it was all good. Not that it was, I'm sure I made mistakes and faux pas along the way, but just thinking about my words was a good start. Fast forward 20+ years to when I decided to become a teacher. That responsibility I felt as an aunt was now multiplied by the 30 minds I'd be reaching every year in my classroom. I continue to be awed by the trust these children put in me. As I entered my seventh year teaching this fall, I found myself getting a little more cynical and a little more sarcastic. I don't want to be "that teacher" and so, my goal to be more positive.
Anyone who has known me a while will tell you I am generally a positive, optimistic person. It drives DH nuts when we are driving and someone cuts him off and I say, "oh honey, maybe he is on the way to the hospital because his wife is having a baby!" I give blood frequently with my dear sister-friend. We both have the same, rare-ish blood time and we remind the blood suckers at Red Cross, B+: it's not just a blood type, it's an attitude. So it is in my nature to be positive, but I still need a little help now and then.
Over winter break, I started reading Opening Minds: Using Language to Change Lives by Peter H. Johnston. Reading this book has helped me really focus in on my choice of words and to think about the impact on my students of my words, tone, and non-verbal forms of communication. I want my legacy to be one of creating a joy of learning and a respect for life in all of my students. If that is the legacy I hope to create, I need to work on it every day.
January finds our school community focusing on the life skill of kindness. My students have decided to create in our classroom a Kindness Project. We have brainstormed ways that we hear and see kindness. We are creating kindness icons and we are practicing words and actions to create a habit of kindness. I am so excited that my students are joining me on this journey!
Artwork by ERM, 3rd grade, created using tagxedo and skitch. Thank you!