I just came back from Spring Cue in Palm Springs. While I have so much to reflect on about my experience, I really wanted to jot down my thoughts on something I tweeted while watching Ann Kozma during the #CUEBoom event (a rapid-fire 3 minute inspiring talk with a maximum of 9 slides). It was AnnKozma quoting Julie Adams
#FULLYCHARGED Keynote about the importance of charging up our students & staff by meeting their Maslow needs, when we don’t, we act as drainers. Schools can be uplifting (Disneyland-like) & the place people WANT to be when we do so. I tweeted:
— Jennifer Casa-Todd (@JCasaTodd) March 16, 2018
For many, this tweet resonated, but for Brenna, in Australia, such an absolute statement proved problematic. (Take a look at the whole thread as she expands upon her point of view).
This is unrealistic at best, harmful at worst.
Is it better to pretend to be posiitve when we’re not feeling positive? Push down negative feelings when we’re having a tough time? Always put on brave face? Ignore our feelings in the hope they’ll go away? https://t.co/0MdzV57vkW
— Brenna McNeil (@msbmcneil) March 17, 2018
Brenna is referring to the mental well-being of teachers. I appreciated the conversation. I clarified my thinking and Brenna expanded upon hers. Even with 280 characters on Twitter, we were still able to see each other’s point of view.
Another person, Malcolm responded:
“No. That’s how a very bad school got away with keeping its staff in miserable acquiescence. Everyone seemed to be ‘happy’ and the parents thought everything was okay. ‘Negativity’ can be resistance.
Their comments made me ponder whether or not I should have made such an absolute statement. And so I wondered about the impact of the two possibilities in a school:
Imagine if a school leader said, our school is going to ensure that we provide a positive culture for our learners. We approach everything from a growth-mindset perspective. We smile. We don’t complain for the sake of complaining. We don’t gossip. We are never malicious. We presume positive intentions. We motivate, celebrate, and re-charge our students and each other.
vs a school where a leader either doesn’t overtly address negativity, gossip, or malicious attitudes, or doesn’t care about this at all.
I would like to work and learn in the first school. Here’s the other thing. I just came back from a conference where I got to hang out with my #PLF–people who inspire me and re-charge me with their own positivity. And I smiled for two days straight.
— Tisha Richmond (@tishrich) March 17, 2018
I am also reading Learner-Centered Innovation by Katie Martin. So many lines in that book resonate with me, but in particular, for this conversation this one does:
“We can’t change who we serve, but we can change how we serve them.”
Katie often talks about the learning environment and how important it is for the vision to align with the reality.
I try to lift others up and be a positive force on others. But do I do it at the expense of my own well-being or the well-being of others? When I approach a situation with positivity, I am often rewarded with positivity coming right back at me. And my students have commented that they always feel happier when they leave my Library Learning Commons. Sometimes, I give out stickers, just because everyone can use a sticker every once in a while. Other times, when kids have their heads down, I check in with them and ask if I can help them in any way. And every day I greet my students and colleagues with a Happy Monday (insert day of week here). Am I masking my own fatigue or stress to put on a smile for them? Sometimes. But sometimes, that fake-in-the-moment smile, leads into genuine happiness. A recent Stanford study suggests that our brain works better on positivity.
But the counter-argument does have validity. If we are trying to make our school the happiest place on earth, are we undermining those who are struggling with anxiety or depression? I recently saw a similar charge/vs drain image. It was shared at a self-care presentation. It showed an image of a cell phone and asked:
“Would you ever let your phone totally drain down to 0%? But for some reason we may allow ourselves to drain down to 0%”
This really resonated with me. So here is the new image I came up with.
What do you think? Please check out the comments below and add your own.