The Balanced Teacher: Thank You Notes


This is a simple, but powerful, idea for helping you achieve happiness at work... and it comes from Chapter 10 in Justin Ashley's book, The Balanced Teacher Path.  

It's about writing thank-you cards.

But it was born out of frustration.  

(Like so many of our good ideas, right?)

And it kind of goes like this:  In a nutshell, Justin found himself becoming increasingly challenged by a disruptive student... a student who blurted out constantly... a student who was continuously a distraction during lessons.  One day, after a completely interrupted lesson, and while deciding how to redirect this student, Justin walked to the back of the classroom, thinking he'd surely come up with a new (or old) way to deal with this student.  But as he stopped to think, he noticed every (every) student was working productively on the assignment.  

(Well, every child but the one.)

He realized he was spending a lot of time thinking about one problem and maybe missing the bigger picture... the majority of the class was doing the right thing.  

He writes in this chapter, "The biggest problem with calling out a student isn't the distraction they cause for other students.  It's the distraction they create in you.  Deal with them quickly and turn your attention back to where it belongs: on the good stuff."

So, he invited his little chatterbox to work outside the room and then had the idea of writing thank you notes to the other students.  The response was powerful and not only did it impact the students and their families positively, it also shifted Justin's focus to the good things happening around him.

Note:  He was only able to write a few notes during that time, but it became a teacher-habit of his.  His tip?  Keep track of who you're giving cards to and how often.  Without giving false praise, be fair and make sure everyone gets acknowledged with a note at some point.  

I think that's part of achieving balance in this profession.  We have to be intentional about remembering why we became teachers because knowing that is the key to staying motivated and feeling purposeful.  Without those feelings, we can easily feel under-appreciated and become burned-out.

He ends the chapter by reminding us, "In life and in class, don't let the bad outshine the good."

How do you maintain an attitude of gratitude?  What strategies do you find helpful for focusing on the positives? 


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