Noticing and sharing our wins

I had some wonderful days at school this week. They came at just the right time after a couple of very challenging weeks with my class. Having these positive experiences absolutely makes me a better colleague around my peers and a better teacher and carer for my students. These awesome days still had their trying times throughout, but at the end of the day it was the small wins that had me still smiling and feeling positive for what tomorrow would bring.

When the challenges of a day far outweigh the positives you experience, it is easy to ignore or in fact, not really notice them at all. It’s easy to succumb to feelings of frustration and deflation. In such complex environments, this can be common practice, particularly when you hold high expectations for yourself.

One night earlier this week, I came across this blog post, 9 habits of super positive people by @marcandangel. I highly recommend you have a look.

They start by saying that “life is full of positive experiences. Notice them”. I think that noticing requires sustained effort to be aware of and reflective about what you are experiencing. Often in our hectic daily lives as teachers, noticing the positive experiences in a crazy day when you are facing significant ongoing challenges is difficult. Sometimes it is easier to walk into the staff room at the end of the day and say “gee that was a hard day, guess what happened…” and if this is a common thread across your school, much time can be spent debriefing on the negative experiences of the day. While having the space and support to do this is very important for our wellbeing, I think we need to be sharing our wins for the day equally if not more so.

No matter how small they are, we must notice and share what went well, what made us smile, what made our students smile, what we felt proud of or what our students showed pride in that day. Articulating these wins fills our space with positivity – it puts them out there for others to smile at and delight in. It shares with your peers what is possible and what could happen tomorrow. It reminds us of why we are here and reignites our passion and commitment to build on these successes the following day. Instead of leaving school that day with burdened shoulders, we can leave with hope for a positive tomorrow because these wins exist and they will happen again. Indeed, it will make habit number 1 that much easier ~ wake up every morning with the idea that something wonderful is possible today.

I loved reading Kathryn Trask‘s post ‘Savouring the Small Moments’ where she shares the experiences that week which warmed her heart. What a wonderful way to celebrate the positive moments from the week.

Our staff room now has a space to share our wins. It has been lovely seeing staff sharing and celebrating with each other.

 

Sharing the positives

 

Are you noticing the positive experiences that fill your day? How are you sharing them?

Importantly, how are your students sharing their successes?

I’d love to hear from you.

My Theory of Change

I feel very fortunate to be involved in a leadership program working towards ending educational disadvantage in Australian communities. The aim of the program is to inspire, equip and support teachers to lead positive change in their schools and communities. I highly recommend checking the program out and connecting with the Changemakers team; Dave and Aaron.

Since beginning the program 4 months ago, I have struggled to find clarity around what it is I hope to change. We were asked to identify what we find unacceptable in our teaching context. I found it easy to answer this when phrased as “what keeps you up at night?”. Below are some of my initial thoughts:

  • It is unacceptable that students are disengaged from and uncommitted to education – that students don’t love learning
  • It is unacceptable that year 4 students cannot read or write in Pitjantjatjara (their own, 1st language) or in English
  • It is unacceptable that  students behaviour significantly impacts on each others opportunities and ability to learn
  • It is unacceptable that there is minimal family involvement, presence and support in the school
  • It is unacceptable that the basic needs of some students are not being met at home

From this point, I identified an end goal, what it is I wish for. Thankfully, four awesome educators from my school and our neighbouring school are also involved in this program so we were able to collaboratively discuss, debate and define an end goal together.

At work with amazing educators @erinmcquade, @loukaparry, @laurencwaller & Hayley

Our end goal

I then thought about what, in my opinion and experience, needs to happen to reach this point. I have outlined these ideas below. Still big  ideas that need more thought, input, discussion and reflection. But I wanted to put it out there as my initial thought processes so that I can see how they progress over time.

I do realise that achievement of these goals will be impacted by a multitude of factors, many of which are completely out of my control as an educator. These factors are consistent across many low socio-economic environments and include, from my observations, family and cultural obligations, generational unemployment and welfare dependency resulting in minimal motivation to work or aspire to a positive future, substance abuse, domestic violence, poor health, child neglect, abuse and poverty. It would be easy to succumb to these real challenges and at times, it takes every ounce of energy we have as educators in challenging contexts to keep going.

But wanting to see my students experience a future where they have fair and equal access to anything they want in the world, despite the challenges they face, is what inspires me to continue working towards creating positive change for my students and their families to come.