Saturday, February 22, 2014

An Air Horn and an Attitude Adjustment

As teachers we are all, to one extent or another, leaders with the opportunity to positively impact the lives of those around us. If you're like me, chances are you've always felt yourself to be a capable leader with a positive outlook on life. When you find yourself in a rut or down, you have the skills and abilities to change your perspective and get out of the funk you're mired in. Also, if you're like me, you sometimes find that you ignore all the skills you've learned over the years and keep trudging along surrounded by negativity, ignoring the voice in your head telling you to "snap out of it, change your perspective, and get back on track." 

The past few weeks I have found myself ignoring the voice telling me all the right things I needed to do and instead focusing on the negative. As far as negative complaints that teachers have, you name it and I was dwelling on it. It all came to a head last Tuesday when I had reached my breaking point. I typically try to avoid venting at lunch, but last Tuesday I made an exception and just vented/complained/whined/*******. With about seven minutes of our coveted 26 minute lunch remaining I found myself alone in the staff lounge. Everyone else left. Was my negativity so awful that I had driven my peers away - not wanting to eat lunch with a cantankerous companion? I started reflecting as I walked back to my class thinking that maybe I owed my peers an apology.

However, even more than a few minutes of reflection and contemplation about an apology, what changed my perspective was the eye-opening experience that I had when I returned to my classroom...take a moment and watch the video below...

After I gathered myself and realized that life as I knew it was in fact not coming to a swift demise I could do nothing but laugh...and watch myself and laugh some more. And share the video with family and friends...and laugh some more. Jody, the prankster in this video, is a good friend and a teacher that I greatly respect and admire...and occasionally prank myself. Once the feelings of sheer and utter terror waned I found myself just laughing. The laughter began to bring myself back and to shake the funk that I was in.

The next morning as I was working with the 8th grade WEB Leaders we began prepping them on a lesson that they would be teaching to 5th graders the following week. The title of the lesson? Your Attitude Determines Your Altitude. As I modeled the lesson to the students, everything that I was doing and saying resonated with me more and more. 

At the end of the day I was still confronted with concerns about students, parents, and much more. The factors contributing to the funk and stress that I was feeling hadn't changed, but my approach and feelings about them certainly had. The issues and concerns that were frustrating me to no end were now viewed as opportunities to have a positive impact, and not a burden. Not a single thing had changed, except for my approach and the lens through which I was viewing the world. As it turns out, all I really needed was an air horn scaring the bejesus out of me and a bit of laughter to bring back the positivity. It was the perfect reminder that my attitude and perspective is in my control, and that the way I view my challenges will greatly determine how I handle them. 

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