My Contribution

At a September back to school session on school culture, our director asked each of us to reflect on the following question:  What will be your most important contribution to the culture of our school this year?

I found this question so intriguing at the time that I decided to write a public response on my blog…that I never finished and therefore never made public. In light of recent challenging personal and professional events, it’s time I finish my response to this question and, in turn, reflect on whether or not I’ve been successful in taking up the challenge offered by my director.   

At the time and in the space I found myself, the answer to this question was quite simple:  be positive.  Perhaps, this is too trite and therefore meaningless but after a full year reflecting on what gives me joy in all aspects of my life, I have found that the simplicity inherent in being positive – looking at the bright side – resonates well with the road I’d chosen to travel. 

Or, so I thought.

The human mind is highly susceptible to all kinds of influences and it doesn’t take much to distract us from our determination to develop (or maintain) new habits or ways of seeing the world…if we aren’t careful. I don’t think I would be wrong to say that it’s sometimes easier to fall back on old and unproductive habits of mind than to struggle at developing new ways of responding to the world. If we look hard enough, we will always find something to veer us of our course and to break our determination. 

So, maybe that’s what happened to me or maybe the circumstances were such that I had no other choice but to hunker down and dig in my heels. The old dichotomy – who is the victim here and does it matter? In the end, we only hurt ourselves when we allow outside events to rule over us or, as my kids used to say, “be the boss of us”. 

Which is to say that I lost my resolve to be positive and instead found only negatives to bolster my arguments. Not that the negatives weren’t there but I let them eat at my insides until I became sick, literally and figuratively. Who gained? Who lost? Right now, it doesn’t seem to matter. Suffice it to say that by losing sight of what’s important, I once again find myself picking up the pieces and what seemed oh, so important isn’t so important anymore. 

It’s all about perspective 
and response 
and, yes, it’s about being positive.

I have another opportunity – we always do  – and I won’t mess up this time. 

Cross-posted at SOL – Two Writing Teachers.

11 thoughts on “My Contribution

  1. I guess if we can develop the capacity to see, feel, or hear the cracks before anything breaks to pieces… Then we know when it is essential to tread lightly for the good of ourselves and everyone around us. It sounds like you have developed that capacity. Some people never do; so though it sounds like you have had some hard times, you are on the path to finding inner and creating outward peace. Best wishes.


  2. Interesting that you wrote about school climate today. I touched on the same topic in my post.
    A positive school climate is so important to achieve, but I'm beginning to realize that it's much more difficult to attain than I first imagined.


  3. Interesting that you wrote about school climate today. I touched on the same topic in my post.
    A positive school climate is so important to achieve, but I'm beginning to realize that it's much more difficult to attain than I first imagined.


  4. There, you ended on a positive note! You are right, it is so hard to stay positive at times, but when you can it will change the attitudes around you. Stay the course and be positive!


  5. Your post is courageous! I try to be positive as it keeps me more balanced and happy. This year I chose a word “irrigate” for me. I find that meditating on that word and its meaning; asking myself if I am irrigating those around me with my behavior, has helped me to stay positive (not that is is always easy). My best to you and positiveness!


  6. BK says:

    I just read another post about the secret to success: keep positive. I am with you. It's the only way enjoy teaching these days,


  7. Hi Chris,
    Your words resonate with me so much. I think we all have the ability to do this; we are just forgetful. It's easy to tread lightly, as you say when things are going well but when they're not then it takes that much more effort and concentration but it can be done. Memory is such a powerful thing. It can either work against us or for us. We have the ultimate choice.


  8. Hi lostinliteracy,
    I will read your post and comment!

    Yes, a positive school climate is difficult to achieve. And the more I think about it the more I realize how much this has to do with a school's leadership. But, it's not just the words spoken that matter; it's the actions that back up the words that are critical. Of course, I can (and will) do my part to make my immediate world a positive space. I know that will go a long way to feelings of effectiveness and joy – two essential ingredients in teaching.


  9. Hi Jaana,
    Thank you for your comments.

    I like your word! I like that it can be meditated upon in both positive and negative situations. We can “irrigate” others with good or bad feelings but being aware of what you're doing is so important to changing to a more positive outlook. We can control how we react about what happens to us. It's a lesson I learn every day.


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