Happy May Day, friends! I am so happy that the FIRST day of the Teacher Positivity Challenge 2019 is here. For my first #teacherpc2019 post, I'm sharing three of our adorable kinders holding the seeds they recently planted with our amazing librarian, Ms. McArthur. Seriously, these girls could NOT be any cuter. They were SO excited to show me the tiny seedlings that have already sprouted. After snapping their picture, I moved on to other tasks, always mindful of the neverending to-do list. It wasn't until a few hours later that the analogy dawned on me.
As teachers, it's not uncommon to hear the cliches about planting the "seeds of learning". Indeed, we often describe student learning and achievement in terms of growth. Taking the analogy further, we can think of ourselves as the gardener and our students as the little plants and flowers that we nurture throughout the school year. None of these metaphors are unique; we've heard them all before. When others tell us that we must be "so patient" to work with children or that we have a "true gift", we nod and smile. Perhaps we even give ourselves the proverbial pat on the back, acknowledging the hard work of our profession while simultaneously thinking, "You have no idea."
What isn't typically mentioned in the "teacher as gardener" analogy are the weeds. The bane of any gardener's existence, a weed is, by definition :
a plant that is not valued where it is growing and is usually of vigorous growth
especially : one that tends to overgrow or choke out more desirable plants
A typical response to actual weeds in a real-life garden might include ignoring them until they have overtaken the entire garden OR yanking them out by their roots OR spraying them with weed killer. At this point, you may wonder what weeds I'm referring to in our garden metaphor. Well, what weeds are YOU thinking about? Are you thinking of the misbehaving students, the slacker co-workers, the complaining colleagues, the angry parents, the demanding administrators, the lack of district support/resources.......... that list could go on and on, couldn't it? Just like in a real garden, our minds can easily become overrun with these weeds and the negative thinking they nurture. Here's the facts, friends. The weeds aren't going away. As soon as you think you've conquered them, they pop up somewhere else. You will always have students who misbehave. You will always have parents who are upset. You will always have colleagues who frustrate you. You will never have enough time/money/resources to adequately meet the needs. There. Will. Always. Be. Weeds.
The GOOD news is that there ARE some weeds that you CAN thin out. These are the weeds that keep you from seeing the thriving, budding plants (aka: your students) that are growing RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU. The weeds I'm talking about now are all those negative thoughts that drag you down. Yes, the "you-can't-get-rid-of-the-weeds" weeds are often the source of your negative thinking. However, your thoughts are just............thoughts.
COOL SECRET ALERT(!): You can change your thoughts!!! Yes, you can!!!! You can yank those negative, self-defeating thoughts right out by the roots. When you do, be sure to keep your eyes wide open. There are some beautiful plants growing in your garden. You just have to do some #mindweeding to allow yourself to see them.
I am so lucky. As an instructional coach, I am in and out of classrooms all day long. I can quickly and easily see all the beautiful, flourishing growth happening in the classrooms at my school. I frequently have a nearly irrepressible urge to grab teachers by the face and help them SEE all the #aMAYzing things kids are doing in their classrooms. (Don't worry if you are an actual teacher in my actual school - I promise there will be no in-person face-grabbing!) Just know that once you weed out some of those negative thoughts and go on an intentional search for growth....... you'll find it!!!
So, my friends, please go forth and do some intentional #mindweeding! It will feel so, so good to place your focus and attention on what is going well in your classroom and school. There's a saying that goes something like: "Be careful what you look for, because that's what you'll find." Stop looking for the weeds or that's all you'll see. Go find some beautiful flowers! They're blooming all around! I guarantee it. In the meantime, I'll be over here crushing on these kinder-cuties and their seedlings.