Last summer, I read a book by Darren Hardy called The Compund Effect which I believe has truly positively affected my typically-cynical thinking. The best piece of advice I gleaned from Hardy's text was the idea of beginning each day by counting one's blessings; particularly, he suggests doing so after you press the snooze button and until your alarm next sounds. I've found this practice to be a great way to begin each day, and thought I'd practice the power of positive thinking in my professional life as well this semester. Based on this book and the inspiration of a very cheerful colleague, I've made it a professional goal to, each day, give at least one student and/ or one class a sincere compliment. Doesn't sound tricky, does it? For me, it initially was a switch, not because I don't love my classes or my students, but rather because I am very very critical of myself and often this spills over into my teaching. Like many of us, I constantly strive for better and can sometimes, in the process, forget to compliment and reward what's working well outside of offering a nice compliment on a written work or giving the "reward" of a grade a student rightfully earned. I have found the experience to be a great one, one that, so far, seems to have changed the tone of my classes and also my own attitude during work each day. Here are a few examples.
I have a brilliant junior-senior class this year. I've been graced with insightful readers, thoughtful contributors, and, by and large, hard workers. I knew this last semester. I just sometimes forgot to say it out loud. I engage in the instructional practice of Socratics often and, yesterday, we had the best Socratic we've had all year about Joyce's "Eveline', a very challenging text. This might be attributable to many factors: a short text, some time to think about the story before beginning discussion. But I also think it has a lot to do with the fact that I've actually taken the time to affirm what bright young students they are.
Another example has occurred in my fourth hour class. Because this is the midway point through the day, right before lunch, many students stop for drinks, bathroom, etc. causing them to be late. I got frustrated and chastised before, this semester I've tried expressing my appreciation at their punctuality. It seems a successful experiment so far.
Clearly, my evidence isn't yet prolific, yet this has so far proven a change that's required minimal effort and no time, but rather simply a mental reminder to express my sentiments. I'm excited to see how it continues.