Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tuesday Teaching Tip - The Power of Positivity

Have you ever heard people talk about worker productivity? Happy employees perform better?

Did you know that they actually did studies on this?

I was thinking about my team and school and just decided to Google the whole theory.  (I Google everything.)  That's how I came across this great article in the New York Times. 2 things stood out to me as I read the article:

"In a 2010 study, James K. Harter and colleagues found that lower job satisfaction foreshadowed poorer bottom-line performance. Gallup estimates the cost of America’s disengagement crisis at a staggering $300 billion in lost productivity annually. When people don’t care about their jobs or their employers, they don’t show up consistently, they produce less, or their work quality suffers."
Part of the study involved workers keeping an electronic diary.
In one-third of the 12,000 diary entries, the diarist was unhappy, unmotivated or both. In fact, workers often expressed frustration, disdain or disgust. Our research shows that inner work life has a profound impact on workers’ creativity, productivity, commitment and collegiality. Employees are far more likely to have new ideas on days when they feel happier. Conventional wisdom suggests that pressure enhances performance; our real-time data, however, shows that workers perform better when they are happily engaged in what they do."
As teachers our productivity and performance probably measures differently than the workers in the study, but I think the results would probably still hold true.  I think the 2nd finding I listed regarding creativity probably hits a little closer to home for teachers since we rely a great deal on creativity to reach our students.

Think about your work environment.  Have you ever had times when your work environment felt negative?  Maybe morale was down because of pressure resulting from less than ideal testing results.  Maybe your team wasn't getting along so well.  Or maybe no matter how hard you tried you still felt like your best wasn't enough.  I know that I've faced times like these, and it's made it harder to make it through the day.  It threw my focus off, and to be honest sometimes it made me feel like I just wanted to go home.

Then I think about my awesome team.  It isn't always smiles and cheer, but when things are going really well the cheer is infectious!  You can't help but take that positive atmosphere flowing from your "professional" side straight into the children.

Some of us are truly blessed to have a positive work environment.  Perhaps it's been built into the culture of your school by your administration.  Others might be a little envious, wishing their own work environment was more positive.  If you're one of the latter, don't wait for someone else to make your work place positive.  You have the power and the choice to do that on your own.  Here are some things you could try:

Team Building-  Try to incorporate small ways to bring positivity to your team and grow closer together.  I could write pages about some of the great things we've done together on my team.  Some things I've done in the past have included. . .
    • "Secret Pals" (draw names and try to sneak little $5 or less gifts to your pal once a month with a big reveal at the end of the year.  Want more details?  Just let me know and I can post more details.)
    • Afterschool outings (early dinner or a quick round of shopping)
    • Quick notes of appreciation or encouragement
    • (Cheesy but sweet) group time to share words of encouragement choosing one person from the group to tell them an example of why you think they're doing a good job
    • "Surprise" Birthday Breakfasts/Snacks on your team members' birthdays
Celebrating Wins - Take a moment to acknowledge and celebrate progress.  This could include good test results, coming up with a new plan/strategy, or awards or recognition from outside sources, etc.  Go ahead!  Give yourselves a pat on the back!  You deserve it.

Smile - Don't underestimate the power of a smile.  Make it your 1st expression towards others whether or not they reciprocate.  It will at least boost your spirit!

Stay away from the drama - You know there's always drama somewhere.  Try to stay away from it.  Whether or not it involves you, if you get caught up in it it can bring your spirit down.

No matter what kind of environment you're placed in, you have the power to create a positive environment.  In the off chance that your positivity doesn't rub off on your co-workers at the very least you will create a positive classroom environment, and I'm confident that it will impact your students.

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