Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Complaint-Free Zone

     This has been a great school year. One of my best in years. Did I change jobs? No, I still teach at-risk students. Is my class size smaller? No, I'm running at capacity. So what made the change? A little purple band a friend of mine gave me that read "Complaint-Free World." He said every time I caught myself complaining I had to switch the band to the other wrist. This made me more aware of my words and my attitude, which impact my outlook which influences how I treat students. Ergo, by cleaning up my act, I set the stage for a more positive vibe in my classroom.
     Complaining is almost a way of life with some people. Nothing's ever good enough, they don't make enough, their students are problematic, they aren't happy with their lives--the complaints go on and on. If I had a negative Nellie like that for a teacher, why would I want to be in her class? We're surrounded with negativity in the world. The last thing we need is more of it in our own classrooms.
     So the little purple band reminded me of my words and their power, but it also shook me out of my comfort zone. Every year I'd get a flyer about having a Poet in the Classroom and every year I'd circular file it. Instantly. Negative thoughts spewing into my mind. "What a dumb program," I'd think. Who has time for this on top of everything else I have to do," I'd wonder. Negativity swirled in my thoughts. Except this year. I looked at the program, read through the pamphlet, and talked to the other English teacher. Did we want to take on the Poetry Out Loud project and write a grant to bring a poet into the classroom? We did. For me, I needed to challenge myself to explore a program I had only dismissed in the past. Well, we got the grant and the poet has been here. It was probably one of the best moves I've made in a long while. The poet was a HUGE hit. Had I been in my normal attitude zone, I would have circular filed it again.
     I'm having a good year because I have a good attitude. I LIKE my students. I LIKE my job. I LIKE my coworkers. The problem during turbulent school years may have been as simple as needing to adjust my attitude.  When kids know you like them and enjoy being around them, they respond positively.
      No one likes to hang out with grumpy stumps. For me the little purple band will continue to remind me how important attitude is. It impacts not just me but everyone around me. I don't want to be another negative force in the lives of my students. Get yourself a purple band (acomplaintfreeworld.org) and make some adjustments of your own. It could make all the difference.

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