Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sometimes A Great Notion

I am constantly amazed at the level of awesomeness that comes out of my PLN on a daily basis. Occasionally, something that seems like a simple idea turns in to something awe-inspiring. At a time when so much negativity is aimed at our profession, Nick Provenzano decided to focus on the good that we as teachers do. His recent blog post, #SchoolDidAGoodThing, describes his idea of having people on Twitter talk about the positive aspects of their own education using the hashtag #SchoolDidAGoodThing.

I wonder if Nick had any idea what his idea would lead to. People talking positively about their education, and sharing some inspirational thoughts in 140 characters or less. Looking through the hashtag stream, not only can you get a sense of why so many of us became teachers, but you can also see quite clearly what an amazing impact we can have on the children in our lives. Even if we don't know it.

How many students have come into our classrooms just needing to be seen by someone? To be recognized as a person of value? A person who has great potential to do good in this world? But if there isn't anyone in their life to see that and point it out to them, what happens to that child?

I begin each school day by greeting my students at the door, looking into their eyes and saying "Good Morning!" What do I see when they look back at me? Do I see the student who aces every test because school is too easy for her? Do I see the student who rarely does his homework? Do I see the student who doesn't always have a lunch because mom and dad are so wrapped up in getting divorced that they've forgotten they still need to take care of their children?

Of course not. What I see when I greet my students each morning are young people who want to be treated as people with tremendous potential. They want to know they are cared for first and foremost. "And, hey, if we can learn some stuff too, that'd be cool."

I'm sorry if I've gotten a bit off track here. But reading through the #SchoolDidAGoodThing hashtag has me thinking about why I became a teacher in the first place. I've been struggling this summer with whether or not I should remain in the classroom. Teaching is an unbelievably hard job, but it is also the most important job I've ever had. I've faced a lot of negativity in the last year or so that has made my job even harder. I wonder what would happen if I focused only on the positive aspects of my job during the next year. How would that impact me as a teacher and as a person? And how will it impact my students?

And that is why Nick's idea is such a valuable one. It has people focused on the positive aspects of our profession.

A week or so before Thanksgiving each year, I have my students start keeping a gratitude journal. Each evening they have to write down three things that they were grateful for from that day. I explain to them that the theory is the more you focus on your gratitude, the more things will come into your life that you can be grateful for.

And so I ask you: What would happen if we focused less on all of the negativity aimed at teaching and teachers, and, instead, started focusing on the positive aspects of our career? Perhaps it seems too simplistic to you. But haven't you ever noticed that sometimes the greatest ideas are truly simple?

If you'd like to see the impact this idea is already having, be sure to read Nick's update, #SchoolDidAGoodThing - Follow Up. And then, if you are on Twitter, add your thoughts on how school was a positive thing for you and use the hashtag #SchoolDidAGoodThing.

Please join us!


Nick Provenzano said...

I'm so excited to read this post. I had no idea what was going to happen once I started the tag, but I'm glad I did. It is nice to reminded of the great things happening in the classroom every day. Sometimes the simplest things have the biggest impact and I think some of these tweets showed that. Thanks for the post, it made my day.

- Nick Provenzano

Unknown said...

Thanks for your comment, Nick! And thanks for getting this idea started. You definitely have me thinking about my job as a teacher as well as the importance of the career I've chosen.

Suzie Nestico (@nesticos) said...


Great post! Do you ever wonder why something so simple can be so hard at times? I have much the same experience when I read through the #schooldidagoodthing hashtag. And, I am one of those people who truly need it from time to time. The end of the school year, prior to ISTE11 was rough for me, both personally and professionally, and honestly, one of the things that helped me most was Kyle Pace's #edumoment hashtag.

Like you, I do my best to create and maintain a positive school and classroom environment. I am in a rural, public school smack-dab in the throws of this education crisis and it is often hard to do. But, we do it. Here, we are learning to deal with change before it even happens and, maybe, just maybe, people will start coming together for the good. Thanks for sharing this simple, but oh so very important, notion.

Unknown said...

Suzie, thank you! I often wonder if anyone reads the posts I write, and having you and Nick comment on this one reaffirms to me the reason I started blogging in the first place. Not only is it to carry on the conversations that, I'm sure you would agree, are vital to the future of education. But it is also a means for me to figure out what I'm doing with my career. Am I making the right choices? Am I doing what's best for my students? For myself? Are there other teachers out there who are going through the same thing I am? Because if there are, then I know I'm not alone. "It's not just me" can be a powerful phrase, don't you think?

Nick has done a wonderful thing in getting us started thinking about the positive parts of our profession. The next question is: How do we keep this going throughout the school year when it is the most challenging to remain positive? How can we help ourselves and other teachers remember to focus on the positive day-in and day-out?

Anonymous said...

Mmm... Is there a hashtag yet #teach+? I am thinking we start one in a couple weeks and garner each others' support in the crowd/teacher-sourcing fashion we do best. :) We are in a tough business right now. There is power in numbers and we need to be strong with and for each other. And, it can be done. Anything is possible. Believe me, I know exactly what you mean.... in the past two-three weeks, we've lost our superintendent, business manager, tech ology coordinator and elementary school principal (small district- 1HS, 1ES). It is going to be a tough year. But, change can be a good thing. #teach+ If Google can harner such benefits from the + sign, maybe we can, too?

Unknown said...

Wow! That's so much change for one year! And hopefully it will be a good thing for you. I agree that we need to find some way to offer and/or find support during the school year. Perhaps something along the lines of an #edchat once a week or every other week. definitely have me thinking!