I started off on the wrong foot this morning. Or I woke up on the wrong side of the bed? Either way, it wasn't an awesome start. I was dragging to get out of the door. Panicked that I wouldn't make the MiGoogle Conference on time. I got dressed super quick. Had a couple sips of coffee (definitely not enough to fuel my soul for the day) and ran out of the house. The drive to Lake Fenton High School was long. A 55 minute drive in perfect traffic, which was not perfect. I noticed I was running low on gas but thought, "What the heck, I'll just get it closer to the conference." Not intending to live dangerously, I drove about 35 miles from the time my light came on and pulled off to get gas. I got out. I opened the cap. I went to grab my card and... I then realized... I had no money. I had no license and was still about 25 miles from the conference spot in the middle of nowhere. Fannnnnnnntastic! So, I did what any normal person would do. I said some choice words, text messaged my friends my sad story, got in my car and drove to the conference with the hope I would make it.
In the car, I decided to get some perspective. After thinking... 'I have no money, I'm hungry, I may not make it to my destination, no one is awake to come get me, I am about to be very late! and wishing I would have charged my phone last night...' I turned on a TED Talk by Shawn Achor called The Happy Secret to Better Work. I guess if you listened to this TED Talk only from only the viewpoint of work, you would be missing out on the core meaning. First, Shawn is hilarious. The first time I saw this was at TEDxDetroit. It was just a nice reminder about things we as people and as teachers forget on the day-to-day.
If you haven't seen this video, you should take 13 minutes and watch it. Watch it with an open mind. The points that Shawn made really grabbed me. When we start seeing things through a different lens (whether that be a positive lens, an MYP lens, a problem-solving lens, etc.), we grow. Take a few minutes each day to exercise and shift our mindset with positive thinking. Sounds cheesy? Yeah, I know... but it makes sense. If you can practice and condition your body, why can't you do the same with your mind? We teach children that stretching their minds is important. It's necessary. We want them to be active lifelong learners. When students stretch their mind, that's when learning happens. That's when growth happens. So why is it that when I heard of exercising my mind for positivity, I scoffed at it initially? I thought, "Psh. Ridiculous, you can't retrain your brain that way."
I would like to think I'm a thoughtful processor and an inner reflector. Those who know me understand that it takes me time to develop an idea, a direction, a system, a protocol. I don't think important decisions are made quickly. I think they are made thoughtfully. So with this in mind, I thought about Shawn's message after the initial viewing of the video. I thought about it and watched it again, thinking about it in terms of happiness aside from my role as a teacher. And you know what? I saw it differently. When you look through something with a different lens and a *buzz word alert* growth mindset... you... grow. Crazy how that works.
So cool coincidence, the keynote speaker Anthony Buza shared this same TED Talk at the end of his presentation. He talked about sharing our successes as teaches. His perspective was that we need to lift one another up. When we, as teachers, are more positive on the job, we have more fun. More fun equals better teaching. The mentality that those who play together, stay together.
I agree with Anthony that I don't think we celebrate one another enough. I don't know if that's a high school thing, a building thing, or just a culture thing. I think that's why I like social media (Twitter specifically). I, like many teachers, don't have tons of time to sift through tons of information. Twitter makes it easy to check out what is happening in someone else's classroom. It gives us the opportunity to peek into a classroom and see all of the cool things that teacher is doing, get ideas, and also 'like' something. Give them a digital pat on the back and say what we don't often hear in education enough... "Good job!" I know that we don't really need that as professionals, but it does feel good to know that your colleagues and administrators think that you are doing good things for students.
What I really took away from the TED Talk was that I need to be mindful of my perspective. Not just on the job, but in life. I need to take time out of my day and reflect on the good things that have happened, the moments I want to remember, the people, the times, what I said, how I could be better, what differences I made, what differences I could have made... Getting my mind set today in order to move forward and think more positively for tomorrow.
Watch the video. What is your perspective?
Shawn's recommended exercises for creating lasting positive change...