Friday, January 29, 2010

The Power of Focussing on the Positive

"The universe is created by what you choose to focus your attention on." from ZENCAST podcast titled "Choices"

We've been trying a little experiment in the classroom, Jessica (my assistant) and I, where we try to keep our attention on the positive elements of the environment. We are trying to notice more during observation the moments of concentration and of discovery. When we meet at the end of the day, we first share the highlights we witnessed in the day. Children who are notoriously mischievous are praised after spells no matter how short of normalized-like behavior. We are keeping the negative talk to a minimum. And in communication with parents, I am trying to accentuate the progress aspects rather than the areas needing work. During a meeting with a parent about some seriously troublesome behavior from her child, all of my suggestions revolved around her giving him attention for his constructive behavior, no matter how short spanned, and cutting to a minimum the scolding/nagging/pessimistic comments.

This practice is changing my life. I am feeling better every day. More motivated to go to the classroom in the mornings. Happier. Feeling better about our school.

Sure, realistically speaking there are many shortcomings, mistakes, problems at school, but choosing to celebrate the small affirmative moments makes the time and effort feel worth it.


Barbra The Bloggess said...

I love it. So often when I read about new teachers looking for advice from teachers working in the field I hear some of the most negative advice and comments. That only means to me it is time for them to look for a new line of of work....& in this economy (EEEK).
How about a new mindset's never too late to have a fresh outlook on your career, & even your life!

Anonymous said...

I have tried to do this on a regular basis, but I have to deal with a very critical and negative boss, who only sees the "bad" side of everything.

Thanks for the reminder, and for that beautiful picture with a simple yet transformative message!

NOLA mom said...

I'm a wannabe Montessori mama with a 5 yr old son who has a mild form of autism. We have found that a type of behavioral therapy called ABA is best for treating my son, but at first glance, it seems contrary to Montessori tenets, as it relies (in simplest terms) on an external system of rewards. But I have found, through trial and error (much error!), that it isn't necessarily at odds with the Montessori model. So, when I read about your strategy to focus on periods of good behavior (even if short), I had to smile, as that is the exact prescription given to us by our ABA therapist. (Dr. Kazdin's methods are based on ABA, in fact.) It's nice to see evidence that behaviorism and the Montessori method can work together.

Anonymous said...

nice post. thanks.