Monday, October 6, 2014

Crash Course Week 5: Talent and Optimism

More great stuff in this week's readings! Have any of your students surprised you with a hidden talent like Tyreece surprised Kim? How do you encourage your students to discover their talents and utilize them? As we all struggle with negativity and complaining, how do you improve your own attitude and encourage your students to be positive? I love Kim's suggestion to follow people's negative comments with postitive comments.

Next week's reading assignment is chapters 8 and 9, "Love" and "Generosity." It's so exciting to see all the great comments to my posts and other people's comments. Keep up the great work!

61 comments:

  1. When my students enter into a new unit I try offer a variety of options that will allow for students to exhibit some type of talent. For example we are currently studying Roman/Greek Mythology. Within this unit I have the typical study guide/test planned, along with a writing assignment, etc (although some students don't respond well to those types of learning measurements). However, one project I have done over the years is the one students typically remember. I allow for students to create a blue print of Mount Olympus - featuring bedrooms, the kitchen, the banquet hall, the armory, and much more. Students may use whatever materials they like to complete their blue print- computer programs such as (floorplanner, minecraft, sims, etc.) poster boards, clay, colorful paper, etc. To see their talents and imagination come through in this assignment is incredibly impressive once I let them have creative control. Most of them stand back in awe and look and what they have accomplished; they are eager to share their project with those around them friends, teachers, administrators.

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  2. As a colleague of Melissa's, it is a lot of fun to see the different ideas and creativity of her students during the mythology unit. It reminds me to allow for student choice and not to always set limits on student thinking for projects.

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  3. Students sometimes come to class with plenty of negativeness. It is up to the teacher to set a positive tone for the classroom. I try to think about my class period in three fifteen minute segments with an added two minutes at the end to talk about what is ahead for tomorrow. This pacing has served me well over the years of my career, and when I stray from it, I have struggled to get the class back to a positive place. I remember teachers who were my favorites, and there was not time for "down time." They had the class period planned and ready to go. I was always busy doing or busy thinking in their classrooms. They set my brain cells abuzz!

    While there needs to be little "downtime" in the classroom for students, we all need "downtime" outside of school. I know I have to do things to rejuvenate myself to keep my energy up for my students. Spending time alone is sometimes a challenge this year, but it is necessary to get my "outside of school" planning and grading done. And, spending time with my family and pets is very helpful in being ready to "go public" again the next school day. Setting time aside for people who make me smile and laugh is worth the effort. Spending time with friends who love me unconditionally and have a shared history with me build me up and fill me with comfort, acceptance, and happiness. I can then give more to my students when I have taken the time to a commune with friends. When I am replenished, it allows me to replenish my students in a healthier, happier frame of mind. Yes, it is an effort to set aside time to do things with friends, but I become like Scrooge when I don't take that time. All work and no play just doesn't work long term. I know I need that time to keep positive.

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  4. I need to be better at encourage students to discover their talents, but I do praise students for the their athletic, scholarly, or social successes if I hear about them on the announcements or through another media source. I think our Middle School does a good job at exposing kids to finding their hidden talents through our related arts classes. Students are starting to realize they are pretty good cooks as well as strong musicians.
    I have a quote a day app that inspires me with positive messages that I try to pass on to my students. I don't write negative messages on social media if I can help it and encourage my students to be positive as well. At the end of every class, I will say have a nice day, and by doing that, I hope it sends to them their next class, or wherever they are going, with a good attitude.

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  5. Since I teach in a parochial school, my students can be told that God loves them and has made them all a special and wonderful creation, and has given them different gifts. This serves as a springboard to share what gifts and talents each child notices in themselves, and we also spend time recognizing those gifts in each other. I'm in a self contained first grade classroom, so its probably easier to notice who excels in art, music, athleticism at recess, what makes the children light up when they share something 'interesting or exciting ' about the weekend, than a teacher who only has a group in a single capacity one period a day. I can then use what I've noticed to affirm each child --"Suzie, that picture you drew to go with our story is just beautiful. Do you mind if I share it with everyone?"

    As far as beating negativity, I have tendencies to be pessimistic and need to consciously deal with this trait in how I approach my students. It's a choice to smile at each child as they come in and say something that will start their day off right; they deserve this from me! On a selfish level, students will work much harder and behave much better for someone whom they feel likes them and has their back! And I insist that all my students follow the simple rule of, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything."

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  6. My 20 Time project really help me discover and encourage students to embrace their talents. With the project, students often times explore topics that focus on their talents and passions. However, others step out of their comfort zone and find new talents or passions. With the time they have in class, I can talk 1 on 1 with many of them and really learn a lot about them and their interests. When they present their projects to the class, their classmates also learn about their interests and talents. It develops a great sense of community.

    I often tell my students, "We can't control what happens to us, but we can control how we react to what happens to us." It is all about making good choices on what we can control and not dwelling on what we can't control. That helps put things in perspective and keeps people more positive. A few years back, I did have one parent that really did not like me for some reason. This parents sent me nasty emails what seemed like weekly. I tried working with this parent, my principal tried, but the parent just could not be appeased. So, to keep my sanity, every time that parent emailed me, instead of letting it ruin my day, I immediately sent an email to another parent complimenting their child. It is something I should have been doing more of anyways, but that was a catalyst for me to spread good news to other parents. Instead of focusing on the bad, I immediately began thinking of who was good or had something noteworthy and it helped me stay more positive.

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  7. I try to attend extra curricular activities (sports, plays, concerts, etc) and try to compliment the students in their performances. Students seem to appreciate when faculty members are there. With social media, I sometimes see things that are positives for students and make sure I mention it to the students.

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    1. Jennifer, I'm with you. I try to catch my students' talents on display and mention them, like them on social media when results are posted on the school website, read about it in the paper, etc. Kids beam when you notice their special moments.

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  8. Honestly, I need to be better in allowing my students to discover their hidden talents. I have a few students who enjoy singing and are in the choir, but other than that I am really unsure of any talents that my students have. In the future, I will make sure I ask the students what their hidden talents are and if some don't have any I will try new activities to see if they can be discovered.

    A lot of my students struggle with a negative attitude. I try to make learning fun and entertaining like allowing my 5th grade class to be "Reading Buddies" with the 2nd grade class and when I first introduced this idea they were very excited and now I hear moans and groans about doing it. I also offered to have pen pals with students in New York City and they didn't seem to love that idea. I'm not sure what I can do to bring up their negative attitudes. I don't want to keep doing work that they aren't interested in, but I also try fun and exciting things and that doesn't work either. I understand that all have difficult circumstances at home and maybe that is why they aren't receptive to my ideas.

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  9. From time to time, students will come to class complaining about something going on in another classroom with another teacher or another student, I will try and encourage them only have positive talk about other people in my classroom. Also, do not talk negatively about other teachers in my classroom. The students learn by example and will emulate more of what they see than by what you tell them.

    On that same note, I also know that whether the emotion the student is feeling is positive or negative, that sometimes they have to get that emotion off their chest in order to move on to be able to give of themselves in my classroom. If it involves just stopping and listening to them one on one so that they can move, at times I have been known to do that. For some students, all they are seeing is negativity at home and don't know how to be positive. It is my hope that by the end of the year that they remember one thing about me, and that is that I was a positive influence on them.

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  10. At the beginnng of our school year, each teacher was encouraged to make a sign that said "I have a gift in________" or " I am a genious at ______" These were then shared on our website. Many teachers decided to do this with their class by having each student decide what their gift or talent was. I like how it emphasizes that we are all different and talented in diverse areas.

    I really related to Kim's story about her daughter. My oldest daughter is a scholar and chose to go to a college for accounting. My second daughter, although a great student, decided not to pursue a 4-yr. degree. She has a talent with hair and nails and has chosen to go to cosmetology school next year. She was afraid we would be disappointed in her and never brought it up until I suggested that she look into it. I told her how she had a gift for it, and it would be a career that she would enjoy. Once she realized I was encouraging her to go into cosmetology, she understood that I was not disappointed at all in her choice.

    We all have those "Debbie Downers" in our school buidings. I try to avoid spending time with them. This same feeling happens at my home. I have a daughter who is often negative. We have this saying: "I like your shirt". When someone is constantly being negative, we reply with this positive remark. It makes the "Debbie Downer" realize how negative they are bieng and it changes the mood. I often try to compliment students at school to build their spirits and to let them know I noticed them that day.

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    1. There are "Debbie Downers" everywhere in life. I have experienced many teachers who constantly complain and seem to never see any positive. Even in my social life outside of school, I find it hard to combat these downer people. Some of my facebook friends only post negative things. Social media has become a grounds for people to vent constantly. It's easy on social to hit the "unfollow" or "unfriend" button, but in real life situations, like at school, I have realized that I just have to walk away, or like you said, avoid them altogether.

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    2. I really like the idea of creating the sign and letting students express what they are talented at. Then if a student is unsure, we can encourage them to branch out and try new things to find that special talent of theirs.

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  11. My students are often negative just coming to my classroom. They feel that having to be in Read 180 is a place of punishment and taking away from what they want to do. I have to show them even more positivity than possibly thought. I go out of my way to stay positive, keep a smile on my face, stay encouraging. We do a lot of hugs, fist bumps, and high fives on a daily basis and I make it a point to publicly celebrate my students little successes with each other.
    I always try to give them an outlet to express their talent, whether it's through how they are assessing a novel they read (art, music, public speaking, etc.) and give them time to showcase who they are and what they love through their daily writing.

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    1. I get a lot of students that come into my math class with a negative attitude. They say they aren't good at math and have never been good at it. I always try to praise them for correct responses. If they mess up, I just suggest that we go back and take another look at it. I show them that making a small error is no big deal. While working on assignments I go around the room and provide help. I tell them excellent job, or you didn't even need my help after all. Anything I can do to encourage them and tear down that negative barrier they have towards math.

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    2. I have the same issue in my Geometry classes. I have been applying the same strategies as you. It is always a joy at the end of the year to see how well the students have succeeded in class.

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  12. In the middle school where I taught, the teachers sponsor about 20 different organizations for student engagement. Probably 85% or more of our students participate in 3-6 groups throughout the course of the school year. Kids show up at school over an hour early and stay an hour or two after. Attendance rates are high and achievement is pushing the 90%s. Our annual "talent" show offers many kids that unique opportunity to display some of the amazing hidden abilities. Other students with "lesser" ability still participate and are met with roaring applause. The talent show, though in front of the entire student body, teachers, and many parents is considered a safe place and without taunting or ridicule. The "real world," no, but that will come soon enough...

    The only real, deep negativity I've had to deal with as a teacher has not come from students, their parents, my peers, or my principal. Those feelings have originated from legislated mandates created by people who've never worked toward the achievement of 170 8th graders on standardized tests, who've never given up personal time to contribute to quality school culture, or who've never become a surrogate parent to a struggling adolescent.

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  13. Kim writes, “Often the biggest problem is that we are trying to fit into the wrong place or to connect to another piece that isn't meant for us. …..We must seek to nurture our gifts and use them to their fullest.” I think a lot of high school students do this. They join a club or a sport because their friends are doing it or because a favorite teacher is the coach. Helping kids find their niche or place of belonging is a responsibility we as educators should be dedicated to. This reminds me of a transfer student we had in the Fall of 2005. He was a freshman, shy, brand new not only to the area but to the state, and his family had just survived Hurricane Katrina. Nick showed up on his first day scared to death and still devastated from what he had just survived. No one knew anything about this boy- no records were sent and the parents had no suggestions. We tried to involve him in several extra-curricular clubs and activities but had no luck pulling this young man out of his shell. After a few weeks, we noticed him reading every chance he got. His guidance counselor called me and asked about getting him involved in book club. I thought this was a great idea! At first, he sat back and only observed but he did participate in our after school projects and seemed to enjoy being a part of group. Each year he shared a little more, opened up to peers, and got more involved in activities throughout the school. By senior year, he was known by everyone and had a long list of clubs and activities for his college applications. For Nick, it was just finding that one place to start building a foundation, from there, all the other pieces fell into place.

    I also love when Kim uses the title, “misery evangelists.” Why does it seem everyone seems to remember a negative thing about someone forever but forgets all the good things a person has done? I wish there was a magic powder you could sprinkle on someone every time a negative thing came out of their mouth that suddenly turned it into a positive. We could call it the silver lining dust or something…. Okay, so not very realistic but it’s too bad kids can’t look for the “silver lining” in a situation because 9 times out of 10 there is something positive to focus on. I think social media and teenagers are a dangerous mix. I can’t count how many times teenagers have felt like their “life is ruined” because of something that was posted on one of these “friend” sites. Kids just need to remember all the good things they have to offer and focus on what makes them happy. (Of course, I know many adults who find this difficult too!) In John Green’s book, The Fault in Our Stars, the family of Augustus Waters has positive quotes all over their home. They call them “encouragements” and although the teens in the book laugh at them, I bet there are a few times those words actually made them feel better. :-)

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    1. I think its hard for adolescents to look at the bigger picture. Like you mentioned, they see one instance as the end of their world. I have many high school girls who are devastated because of a boy's actions, or a boy breaking up with them. I try to remember what it was like to be a teen girl and what it was like to experience my first heartbreak. I also offer a listening ear for them if they need someone to talk to, and try to reassure them that this is just a bump in a very long road. Trying to get them to focus on the positive is hard, but I can think of a handful of girls that have thanked me just for listening to them and reminding them of what they need to truly be focused about.

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    2. I'm going to take Kim's phrase "misery evangelist" and try to be a positivity evangelist- the world sure needs more of those, and I'm hoping it will keep me from being sucked into the black hole of negativity at school.

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  14. I have a very similar story I’d like to share. Last week, I received a letter from a student wishing me Happy Birthday! As the letter went on, the student began thanking me for inspiring and challenging her last year during our Genius Hour in language arts class. She explained that because of this project, she found not only her talent for art, but for working with children and speaking in front of other people. See, she began an after school art class for children K- 3, one day a month at the Public Library. The entire program was self-initiated. She continued by explaining how this year, the Interactive Media class, has given her an opportunity to discover her talents in front of the camera. She never would have dreamed of being an anchor. The letter continued… I smiled….. It was truly a great feeling to know that I had made a difference through encouragement and motivation.

    I find it more and more difficult to fight the negativity in our schools. I wish I could literally “gobble” up the negative integers sometimes. Modeling is definitely the first step. I always try to focus on the positive of situations and encourage students to do so as well. When producing our school news, we also focus on gathering positive acts of kindness etc, that kids are doing around the world. When Kim felt sorry for her student at Christmas, I probably would have reacted the same way. Her student saw the opportunity to spend Christmas with her family as a positive moment, whether it was in a hotel room or not. I do believe, now more than ever, a positive attitude is the answer if we are to make a difference in our students’ lives.

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  15. As a band teacher, I'm usually so focused on helping the students develop their instrumental playing skills and talents in my class that I sometimes forget to look elsewhere for their hidden talents. Sometimes, students will ask to play the piano in the last few minutes as we wait for the bell to ring, and I am blown away with some beautiful piece of music I had no idea they knew how to play! And every time that I attend a sporting event at school, I find students that have amazing athletic talents. The students have talents in so many areas and it is to important to find them out so they can realize that I care about them as a whole person, not just a student in my class.

    Like others in these comments, I often find myself more negative than I'd like. In my mind, when I point out mistakes, I am helping the students avoid them the next time we practice that song. But I do try to always add at least one positive comment in as well. Even a simple "You played with excellent posture" can help the students feel proud about something they did well and to remember to keep doing that again the next time. And when students feel that a band piece is too difficult or they won't be ready for a concert performance, I always try to remind them that with hard work and practice, we can be ready and we will do well. The positives don't always come out of my mouth first, but I keep trying to remember them. And that's optimism, right?

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  16. In Spanish classes, I have seen many talented students pass through over the years. Several students have discovered their own passion for the Spanish language. Those students have pursued careers such as teachers, nurses, police officers, and lawyers using their knowledge and talent in the language. Of course, this was a talent that was discovered in their Spanish classes.

    I also witness very talented students during different activities during the year. The artists make their appearance during craft projects; especially Piñata makers around Christmas time. The singers belt out the Spanish tunes during fiesta days. The writers are creative on their Spanish paragraphs. The musicians like to try out small instruments from foreign lands. I think every student has some kind of talent that can be showcased in the classroom.

    Kim’s story about her daughter’s career choice also hit home with me. My son’s choices are not what I would have made for him. His college degree is in music technology with a concentration in recording. During his senior year of college, he took a photography class and fell in love with the camera. He is now beginning a career in making music videos with an interest in photography! This is not at all what I “had planned” for him, but he loves what he does and seems to be happy with his choices.

    I often find myself telling students what they are doing wrong. I try to stop and pause and then follow with what they do well. I need to learn to start with the positive. I try to make my class a place where students enjoy entering. Not everyone loves the language but the class period should be enjoyable even if you are not the best student. I often hear from students that don’t continue in all four years of Spanish that they miss the class but not the work!

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  17. I can think of a couple instances where students have totally taken me off guard when they reveal their talents. One example was when students had to create a persuasive media marketing campaign for a product of their choice. One girl sang and played the ukulele for her filmed commercial. I had no idea she could sing that well! I’m so glad I gave her the opportunity to share her talent with the class. Many times in English class I like to assign literary response projects that allow students to show their artistic side. I’m always impressed with the drawing skills of many of my students. They are truly gifted.

    I have always had a glass half full mindset. Don’t get me wrong, I can feel negative at times, but it’s easy to stop and think about how much worse it could be, or how the positives outweigh the negatives most of the time. I see many teachers who only see the negative in everything and everyone. I often think to myself, how terrible their lives must be! Even in the students I have disliked the most, for whatever reason, I try to remember that the person I see for 50 minutes a day, is not their whole self. They have much more to them than just a student in my classroom. I try to remind students that just because they are having a bad day, that shouldn’t affect their overall behavior. Or just because something went wrong during the previous class period, doesn’t mean they need to bring that negative attitude or energy into my classroom. Remaining positive is hard, especially during times like standardized testing in the spring. Teachers feel stressed because they want their students to do well, and I think kids feel stressed because, well, testing is stressful. It’s exhausting! It’s hard to get a 10th grader excited about anything, let alone standardized testing! I always give my students a pep talk before they start the test, to help them get pumped up and their energy level up and going. Bringing in snacks for them to eat after they finish helps too :)

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  18. I like to encourage my students to express creativity by creating assignments that give students choice in how they complete the tasks. I also try to create projects and work that addresses different strengths and styles of learning. For example, near the end of the year, my students create graphic novels. Students who are excellent at "school" often struggle with the task, but students who have a more creative mindset flourish.

    Negativity is easy to fall into in schools. Particularly when you consider how poorly public education is viewed by some people in positions of government and by society. Teachers hear everyday about how we are lazy failures who don't care about kids. Those of us in the profession know that the exact opposite is true. I try to keep in mind that the students in my classroom come to me everyday expecting and deserving my best. As I have matured, I think about how I would want to be treated, and how I would want my child to be treated if they were in my room. I make it a daily goal to be the best I can be for my students, and sometimes I have to fake it till I make it. It helps that there is so much good in kids. Even when I am having a terrible day, the kids will make me laugh or have some success that makes things worthwhile.

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  19. In my classroom, students are always being encouraged. I let me students choose between projects when we are working on class projects. I want the students who are creative to express that creativity in more "Art" based projects, as opposed to the student who is more technology based and would rather do a Power Point. If a student is comfortable in class, I allow them to share with the rest of this class. This could be a student singing in front of the class, doing a dance, sharing poetry or a story they wrote, sharing a piece of Art, etc. I try to attend as many school functions as I can. Students always seem pleased when they know that I saw their concert or went to their sporting event. At MHS, we offer a variety of clubs. I encourage all of my students to attend a club meeting that interest them.

    Since I teach special education, I see a lot of my students come to class with negative attitudes. They feel that they are already labeled as "different" because they are in special education. Some days it's very hard to change their mindsets. I try to look at each student as an individual to see where they are coming from and why they feel the way that they feel. Was something said to upset the student? Is it a home issue? hallway issue? relationship issue? I try to look at their issues from their perspective. This sometimes works and sometimes doesn't. In the classroom, I encourage students by celebrating their academic successes, posting work that they are proud of, and I don't allow for any gossip (I try to cut it off when I hear it). I have to admit, I'm human, so there are some days in which in come to school with a bad attitude. The students always pick up on how I am feeling and question me about why I'm in a bad mood. After talking to them, they usually put me in a better mood. I try not to bring my problems into the classroom, but I'm only human.

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  20. I like to go to sporting events and performances to support the many talents of my students. I am currently not doing a great job at helping my students discover their talents. However, I have gotten some great ideas from the comments left by other people reading this book. Some of my students leave some pretty great artwork on their homework and/or tests. I always like to leave positive comments on their doodles.

    I always try to stay positive and upbeat about life. Sometimes I find myself consumed by the bad behavior or by the students that are failing. I have to take a step back and think about the students that are always on their best behavior, and the students that are excelling in the class. I love teaching math, and all the good days easily outweigh the few rough ones.

    I do have to get onto my students about not studying or poor performances on a quiz or test. I bet I can come off as pretty negative at times to my students. I want to work on always ending with a positive note after talking about the behavior that needs to be corrected. I need to work on encouraging more and maybe scolding less.

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  21. I agree with Katherine. As a band teacher I am so focused on my students’ musical talents, I don’t often look for other “hidden talents.” I love it when students come up to me after class and share their “other talents” with me. I am often surprised by these talents; for instance, one flute player is an excellent huntswoman. But then again as a band teacher I also have the pleasure of seeing students’ talents emerge as they mature over the years. I am amazed by the ones who become the leaders. They may not be the most musically talented; their gift is organizing the troops and getting things done. These people are perfect for Drum Major and offices in the band council. ISSMA (Indiana State School Music Association) hosts district and state solo and ensemble festivals each year and I encourage band members to participate. This provides the students an opportunity to perform a solo or ensemble to showcase their talent. The biggest surprises for me are the students who are not ready to play a solo but are very eager to play in an ensemble. They work very hard on their parts, gain confidence in their musical ability, and earn a medal, as do the more advanced soloists.

    I try to start every day off positive, but several things can influence that positivity before I even begin class. When this happens and I’m not feeling so chipper, I take a deep breath and say to myself, “How do you choose to affect the world today, in a good way or in a bad way?” I then exhale and my choice is made. It’s not always easy but as a teacher you have to don the smile even when you ache inside. I think the best way to stay positive is to start with a clean slate every day, with yourself and with your students. If you are positive it changes the whole mood of the group. In band class when a piece goes very poorly, I always ask if they want to try it again, which they always emphatically state “Yes,” and some even add please. To which I reply “We will just pretend that didn’t happen,” and add in a quiet voice “We won’t mention it again.” The kids are used to this and some even respond “What just happened?” This exchange always improves the mood. When students are too critical of their playing, I always tell them the things they are doing well and reassure them there is still time to work on the rest. It eventually all comes together. We are all “works in progress.”

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  22. Discovering student talents is often hard to do considering the pressures that teachers face these days. Taking time to do this seems to be taking time away from teaching them the standards that are always hanging over our heads. I've always felt that the more your students respect you and know you care the more they will produce for you. Finding out about your students world is key to building that relationship that will eventually lead to learning and success. Simply talking to your students is the first step to opening up that conversation about likes and dislikes that can lead to discovering their talents.

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  23. To encourage students to express themselves creatively either in class or in extra-curricular activities, I try to say 'yes' when it is at all possible. Sometimes I have doubts about their ideas or reservations about work that implementing their ideas will mean for me; but I try to suppress this response and some really fun things have come out of being receptive to student input. One project that I enjoy is having students in Spanish or French class find a song (video) to share with the class. They find the translated lyrics (and many times edit them for classroom use) then we share these selections as a rotating opener for a few weeks in class. I get to keep up with popular music, and some class favorites have emerged that I would not have personally provided had the choice been mine.

    With extra-curricular events, I continue to follow the 'yes' when possible philosophy. Usually when I travel to Europe with a group of students, there are a few who want to do something off of the itinerary. This last spring they wanted to tour the streets of Madrid on segways. It was a most invigorating way to travel. No matter how many times I go to the same place it is never the same trip because of seeing it through the eyes of a different group of students.

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  24. Maintaining a positive environment is my job as the teacher. My classrooms have always been a safe place for kids to know they can express and be who they want to be as long as they are not being unkind. I keep the "before you speak THINK" poster in my room. T-is it true? H-is it helpful? I-is it inspiring? N-is it necessary? K-is it kind? Starting each year with explaining this helps to set the tone for my classroom. Not allowing the negativity to creep in is key. When someone starts to say negative things about or to another student, I stop it right away, I remind them to be kind. I remind my kids that I have not control over what they do outside of my classroom; however, when they are with me, the negative stuff is not acceptable. We also have a weekly activity called "New and Good." We each share something positive that has occurred in the last week.This helps start each week with a positive thought and also helps me know what is going on in the lives of my students. I always share as well as having any paraprofessionals share too. Again, this sets the tone. Recently, I have come to practice put-ups with my kids. If I hear them put someone down, they have to respond with three put-ups. It may seem elementary, but it has made a difference with a few kids that were quite honestly just mean. The more we practice kindness, the more natural it becomes.

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  25. I feel like I know my students pretty well and have discovered lots of hidden talents, sports, dance, cheer... I also love attending my students events outside of school. It's so neat to see them thriving in another setting besides the classroom.

    I don't feel like there is much negativity in my classroom amongst the students. Now, amongst adults and other teachers there sure is. Yes it is easy to get caught up in it, but I just keep reminding myself to keep doing my thing and find joy in it. Otherwise, I have to ask myself why am I teaching?

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  26. I have been there myself, building dreams for my children that they do not dream. Thankfully their dreams are theirs and they are all successful adults! I do believe in giving children as many different experiences so that they can find their dreams to pursue. Life is incomplete when we live other people’s dreams and not our own. As I am a bit older I am wondering what gifts still lay inside that I have not yet discovered or given the time to bloom. I could say when I retire but perhaps bit-by-bit I can begin now. When I am teaching the little ones I often wonder what will become of them as they grow up. Will what I have taught them be of any consequence? And then I hear a resounding, yes. Don’t stop believing in them, don’t give up on them, see their strengths beyond the test, never stop looking at their brightness, strength, calm, and joy. I think they will forever be my teachers.
    Negative Nellie. Is that me? Do I do that? How can I change? That is me. Yes, I do that. I can change. A smile, a word of encouragement, stop and think before you say or shoot off an email, listen, smile, laugh more, tell a “nice” joke, shake a little hand, help with the 48 boots this winter, zip another jacket, smile, share, take a breath, cheer, send a thank you, and smile.

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  27. As the community where I live and teach struggles more and more socioeconomically, I see more and more students so busy trying to just survive that they aren't given chances to find and develop the talents and abilities inside of them. It makes me sad. But our school is using STEM across the curriculum, daily enrichment classes that are for both teacher and student interests, and even enrichment classes during fall break to try to give students more opportunities to grow and discover their place in the world around them. I'm proud to work in a school that tries to find some talent, some positive trait, something good in all students.

    With all the political negativity surrounding education, and all if the extra stress and demands on teachers, I think we MUST be able to cling to optimism more and more. We need to encourage and lift each other up in schools. Teaching is such a challenge, made harder by negative atmospheres. I'm learning to close my door, love teaching my students, and hang on to hope. Easier said than done, but that's my goal.

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  28. I also work in a low socioeconomically school district. This past year we had a class for High Ability students in which they created robots using Legos. One of my boys showed great interest in building and moving their robots by creating a program on the computer. Sorry to say after the school year he moved onto the middle school. My hope is that his teachers allow him to continue on with the program.

    Bringing positivity is an ongoing process in our school and community. Students often bring themselves down. In my PE class I explain to students that no one can be great in every thing they do. However, that does not give them excuse to stop trying on the activity they are doing at that moment. I also encourage them to continue to try new experiences because they will find the one or more things that they are good at.

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  29. Each year I draw closer to my retirement goal and I am becoming more and more reflective about my teaching career. There have been so many students who have talent. Some of our alumni have become members of a popular local band. Some of our alumni are talented artists and are following their talents to colleges which offer art degrees. One student, just yesterday, told one other member of this reading group and myself, that she was most prepared in the area of English thanks to the course of study at our school.

    I am also surprised each year about how fast the school year flies by each year. Every teacher ends the year exhausted and “used up.” It becomes important to renew ourselves, for the sake of our health. It’s also good for our students to know that people need balance in our lives. It models the balance of work and play that they will need to be successful people

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  30. With 910 students a week, it can be hard to get to know them well individually but I always think it is so neat to find out what students do and are good at outside of school. One student played the violin, for example, while others participate in 4-H and other extra-curricular activities such as sports, gymnastics, karate, etc.

    This year has been tough and I have tried to keep my positive attitude but my prep time was cut in 1/2 and 45 minutes of class time added to 3 out of the 5 days. I feel like I am always stressed with so much to do and not enough time to do it. However, I do try to stay positive and especially with the students. I want the students to have a positive attitude about libraries, librarians, books, and reading so maintaining a positive, welcoming atmosphere in the library is of utmost importance to me. There is no room for negativity. It may be a battle sometimes but optimism must win!!

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    1. I think you always come across as a positive person. I think you almost always have a smile on and are in a great mood. Sometimes we are the most difficult critics of ourselves.
      I think you are an amazing Librarian and make reading and the library come alive. It's not easy when prep time gets cut but you do a great job. Don't be too hard on yourself! Give yourself a compliment, you deserve it!

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  31. In our class we spend a lot of time at the beginning of the year getting to know each other and building a community of openness and respect. As part of those activities we focus on the Multiple Intelligences. There are surveys, discussions, and activities to help the kiddos learn a little more about themselves and about the other students in the class. Through the interest inventories, some students are surprised at some "smarts" that come up that they didn't think they had a special ability in. I also want to encourage the students to branch out and see what new things they can learn. I am very open about my own shortcomings and how I work through them and even over come them at times. Nothing like Kim's experience has ever happened to me, though! What a joyous day for her and her students! I haven't yet been surprised by a student's hidden talent. My quest is to help each student foster their academic talents as well as their social skills.

    Right before my first maternity leave my principal switched me to a new grade level. Although the timing of coming back to school with a brand new baby and a whole new curriculum wasn't my first choice, I was excited to try something new. Two weeks before I was to start back, I found out that I was going to be moved again. Now I was in a panic! I am a planner and I was mentally all set to begin where I thought I was going to be. It was an extremely challenging year for me as I struggled to get my self together. I was hyper focused and most people took that as anti-social. The next year I was moved again and this year I was moved again. (If you're keeping track, that's 4 moves in 4 years.) Unfortunately, I am assigned as the "bubble teacher". One group of kiddos is larger than the other grade levels. As those kiddos move up through the grades, an "extra" teacher is needed. Lucky me! I've struggled with negativity surrounding this situation. I am getting to a much better frame of mind at this point. Something will work out to land me back in a permanent spot and I am choosing to be positive and look for the good instead of the bad. I focus on my kiddos and do whatever I can to make learning engaging and fun. All the other "stuff" that is surrounding me is not important and should not affect my mood in the classroom. Some days I do come home and whine a bit, but that's all it takes to get me in a better mood. I just need to get my feelings of being overwhelmed and overworked out in the open and then I can move on. My natural tendency has always been to look on the bright side. I'm definitely a "glass half-full" kind of person. However, my current placement has stretched me to the limit at times.

    I was trained in the C.L.A.S.S. model many years ago and thankfully our school is going back to it. Because of their teachings, I have a bottle of Joy dish soap on my desk. It's a reminder to not let anyone take your joy. They also have a pledge for students that we use that has a line that says "I will do the right thing today, even if I don't feel like it. I will do the right thing today, even if I don't feel like it." It's all about making the choice and I choose to be positive!

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  32. I teach mostly Freshmen, so they are all still finding themselves. Many of them have amazing talents, but are too insecure to share them. One of the papers that is part of the Freshmen English curriculum is a personal narrative. Those papers are always fun to read because I learn so much about my students. Even though they complain a lot about writing papers, often they will share more of themselves through their writing than they will anywhere else. So much of the advice in this book connects from chapter to chapter, because I also find that I learn which students have special talents when I take time to develop personal relationships with them and learn what they are doing outside the classroom -- I love to see them in the Fall play or Spring musical, the marching band, at the car show, or notice their art hanging on the walls of the school!

    Optimism is sometimes harder. Keeping up with the demanding schedule of teaching as well as the demanding schedule of a parent (three teenagers) can be very overwhelming. The vast majority of my students come to school every day ready to work, contribute, and do the right thing; but I find that there is always one or two who can really spoil my mood. I try to make a conscious effort to focus on all the good happening in our building. Last week our school put together a lip dub to celebrate Homecoming. It was truly joyous to watch the kids all come together to celebrate their different activities and their school pride. The resulting video certainly helps renew my optimism about education, teenagers, and all the amazing young people I get to work with each day.

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  33. I grew up with a father who was always positive and encouraging. He was also a Hall of Fame Wrestling coach and one of his biggest goals was to make the two hours of practice each day the best part of the day for each wrestler. I have always tried to follow his example in building others up instead of tearing them down. He taught me how to encourage someone on what you know they can do better rather than on what they did wrong. Essentially you are talking about the same thing, but with a totally different perspective. In my classroom, I am always trying to encourage students and show them (not just tell them) how much I believe in them. I have found that this helps more kids reach their potential, more kids enjoy the class and the atmosphere, and I have a better overall relationship with my students.
    As for what the author had to say, I would add that the negativity stops a lot quicker when it is responded with positivity.

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  34. Sorry if this posts twice, but my post doesn't seem to show.

    It amazes me how talented my students are. I have a 6th grader who has written, coded, and sold a couple of video games online. He knows 5 or 6 different programming languages and wants to know more. I try to find the talent in all of my students - they all have it, but they may not know how best to use it. I like to help them connect their talents to what we are doing to find a new way they can connect with the subject in a way that is more real to them.

    I am generally a positive person. I look for the best in all situations, though there are times it is difficult. I honestly don't think I could make it through most days if I were negative, it would bring me down way too much!

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  35. For me, I've been a reading specialist and worked with students to improve their reading and now a computer lab teacher. It's not the easiest to find what talent or gifts a student has when you only see them 30 minutes a week or 20 minutes a day. However I do try to notice student work posted in the hallways, as well as anything for any local contests. I've had a student that I was working with for several months win a DNR wildlife contest drawing and I told him how amazing it was and asked if I could take a picture of it to send to his pen-pal who I knew was also an amazing artist. That completely brought him out of his shell. Like many other educators on here I also try to attend events when I can and give praise for things they have achieved, no matter how little it may seem. Sometimes I feel like when I am at my worst, it makes me feel better to give kids compliments. Praise them for their hard work in the computer lab, or for doing well on an assignment.
    Sometimes I feel like I am being "fake" and that my attitude is a facade, but I would rather seem a little "fake" positive than "real" negative. Negativity is a cancer. It can spread like fire and there is plenty of it among staff members. I was told when I got my license that I should NEVER eat in the teachers lounge because they will be a negative cancer and ruin your job. I think if you eat lunch with the RIGHT people, surround yourself with the positive ones, it makes lunch time that much more enjoyable. Hopefully my lunch time positivity can spread to a few "Downers" and raise them up a little.

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  36. Okay, this is the third time, once again that I've had to write this comment...grr! (notice the lack of optimism;))

    I love it when kids find their own thing, especially when nothing else seems to help them. We had that happen in one of my class the other day. Out of the blue..what a miracle!!!:)

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  37. This chapter was a great refresher on just how important it is to be positive in a world of negativity. Being a Life Skills teacher, we are presented with many opportunities to do things a little outside the box and do different types of activities other than academic tasks.This is great opportunity for students to display what their positive qualities are as they struggle so much with the academic tasks. Each of my students has many unique qualities that make them special and they often need to be reminded of these since the frustrations run high when trying to teach them new concepts or even concepts that we have been working on for quite some time. Often, the negativity stems from other adults not the students. It is very frustrating for some to try and combat the multiple needs of the large class size that we have with making progress on IEP goals, all the while documenting everything we do. We definitely have some challenging students so, as the teacher I am constantly trying to find the positive side and keep everyone's spirits up. I have often been told that I am "too happy" but I honestly think that is not possible. The tedious tasks required that take away from actually teaching the kids is enough to make anyone take a stroll down "Negative Street" however this is where the joy that our students find in simple activities can remind us all of how positivity is imperative in the classroom and to focus on what is really important. Reminders of each child's uniqueness and staying positive with them each day is key to success.

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  38. I'll never forget when one of my students asked me if she could perform in front of the class. This particular year I am referring to she was the quietest student I had. I'll also never forget when I realized my mouth was agape because of her pure talent. She not only sang, but also included a cup performance to go along with it. When she finished, we all sat. Then the room rang with cheers, yells, and claps. I will definitely never forget the look on her face when her peers gleamed and awed over her. From that moment on I decided every student deserves a chance to shine. During the get to know you activities at the beginning of the year I group students according to things they like to do, things they are good at, etc. and I really hear some great conversations out of them.

    Also, I get the local newspaper and bring it into our classroom. The kids like to read it and to see what is happening in the community. I found the kids really like it when I find some of our students inside the paper and actually cut it out, laminate it, and hang it up in the classroom. They get extremely excited and then I give them a chance to describe why they were in the paper and what they have accomplished. Lets just say during youth football season I cut, laminate, and cut so much, but it is worth it to see their shining faces.

    Anytime I hear negative talk in my classroom or around school I try to stay positive, and especially try to the help the problem with a solution. Within my classroom all my students know we are problem solvers and solution setters. They encourage each other greatly when we have a problem. We sit down as a group and have a class meeting about the issue. I think this is very important because it shows them how adults should solve problems. They see the negative quickly turn into a positive which should always be our goal.

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  39. I try to really make over kids when i see them in the hallway or in class if I've noticed a great performance, student of the month, see them in the newspaper, ect. I try to stay current on what all is going on and attend as many things as possible. Negativity is a challenge for sure. Life is all about perspective, it's easy to forget why that student is having problems or acting the way they are. I try to help students with negative self talk in my room. I try to correct them to say they can do it, or they are getting there, or just not yet are they there.

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  40. I feel like recognizing talent among my students is the easy part. I try to attend events they are in, I try to comment on games/concerts/activities that I know they participate in. In my class, it becomes very obvious who is a talented artist. In science we are always drawing examples, color coding, drawing in our lab reports and adding pictures to our notes. When I see a student with exceptional talent, I ask them to draw a poster/flyer for our class over something we are studying. When I put the artwork up, the kid is always so excited that others compliment their work and that I refer to it as we go through the lessons. I have even had former students come back to see if I still have their work and their smiles are worth holding onto stuff!!

    I feel that negativity in my students is a challenge and one that I am always trying to work on. I have a student this year that is a tough nut to crack...he hates everything and isn't afraid to share that. I am constantly looking for a way to make this boy smile and it is a personal challenge now! So any advice on this one, would be appreciated!!

    I do feel that the negativity among the adults I work with is a far greater challenge than student negativity though. There is just no pleasing some people!! It is difficult to listen to someone complain and be negative over and over again. And unfortunately, those people are never quiet! The author really nailed it when she said "misery loves company!" I think it is especially important to surround yourself with other positive people because the negativity will drag you down. When it gets really bad, I find that is when I go into my class room and focus on the kids that light up the room, have a great sense of humor, can make anyone laugh, and even the quiet thoughtful student that always has an insightful question. I am not sure the best way to deal with these negative adults, so I typically avoid them the best I can.

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  41. It is interesting that some kids are too shy to share anything and then there are other students who want to share EVERY talent they may ( or may not) have! Their enthusiasm to try new things and be the center of attention can, at times, make class a little hectic, but other times it brings joy and enthusiasm into the classroom. Recently, I brought in props for my class and had them dress up and do an impromptu play improvising Act I of Romeo and Juliet. While some events (kissing) had to be altered, it was really fun seeing the students take the language of the play and turn it into their own words and generational slang. When Juliet's mother was talking to her about marriage, Juliet responded "I am not about that life!"
    As for staying optimistic, I am afraid that some days I really do fail at this. Whether it is being overwhelmed at school or at home, there are days where I feel my head is barely above the water. However, there isn't a day that goes by that a student does not make me laugh or surprise me or just brighten my day with a smile. Happy students....I AM all about that life!

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  42. I love the thought of "Unique Gifts". Reading the stories about the talents of the kids at RCA was very uplifting. You really must take the time to know and understand each student. With the push of constant testing this is hard. There seems to be very little "free" time to get to know your students. This chapter made it very clear that I must take the time to invest in the students and find their talents. Some may already know them but others may need help identifying their special gifts. So important!! One of my own children loves to draw. Art is his best subject. His peers ask him to draw them pictures and he is so honored to do it. So drawing and sharing his work is a huge motivator for him.

    I try to be positive but I'm far from perfect. This chapter was a good reminder of the importance of showing love and "spreading sunshine". The younger elementary students are so full of smiles and hugs, they just love being at school. Sadly a lot of the students need the extra love because they aren't getting it at home. So smiling, encouraging, complementing…. are very important each day I walk in school. Hopefully as I try to do this more often then it will spill over to other adults as well.

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  43. The student talent that stands out the most to me is a student I had for the last four years that I was in my classroom. I taught middle school moderate disabilities life skills. One of my students had a talent for singing and dancing. He was also very popular in school because of outgoing personality. Each year the middle school hosts a talent show at the end of the year. My student participated each year, singing and dancing to a wide variety of songs. He received an award at the end of every talent show. He did something that would have absolutely terrified me, but I continually encouraged him to practice his songs. We worked on dance steps, as a class, during music.

    I have always tried to be positive. I think a smile can go a long way in encouraging someone or changing their mood. I am one that enjoys helping others--my students and my fellow teachers. There were days when it seemed like the odds (and the to do list) were stacked against me, but when you have an entire classroom of students who are counting on you for the entire day your attitude has to change. I have self proclaimed "Debbie Downers" at work and they say that sometimes they need one of my pep talks. I've given a lot this year in my new position where I get to go out and see more teachers.

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    1. I like what you said, Misty, about a smile going a long way. For some of my kids, coming to school is one of the best parts of their day. It is important for us to show them how to be positive. I'm one like you that tries to always be positive. I look for the positives in all situations. I might get down for a bit, but I pick myself right back up and I feel this is important for the kids to see how that can happen. We might be the only ones to show them this.

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  44. One school year, I job shared in a fourth grade classroom! This was a beautiful young lady that kept to herself, was included. With a few other girls but didn't seem to care either way. She was constantly reading several books at a time (even during class lessons) and was a disorganized mess! It took the first month or so of school to get her to start opening up and sharing, but by the end of the year I had learned more little talents of this 9 year than I think I must has! She was an incredible artist! She loved reading anything and was very fast with amazing comprehension! She was a remarkable, accomplished violinist and pianist! She came from a family of doctors - who expect her to also follow that route. However, that was not currently her interest or desire, nor was music. It was a difficult situation for me because I wanted nothing more for her than to be happy and know her parents are proud of her. But already at nine, she felt she was letting them down because her wishes were not the same. All I wanted was happiness and success for her! But how do you encourage a child to utilize their talents and follow their heart and interests, without going against her parents? I played it safe but think about her often and hope she has found happiness in whatever she chooses!

    Everyone has their tough days but I always try to be positive and have a smile on my face! I want my classroom to be a safe, happy place and I think that starts with me! I want to set the positive tone and set good ground work for my class and colleagues! I realize how fortunate I am and that my trails and tribulations, although important to me, in the big picture of life are pretty small. When having a difficult day, the quickest way for me to snap out of it or "move on" is to remind myself that someone else is fighting a much bigger battle and needs my energy in prayers!

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  45. I make a point of speaking to my students about what they like to do outside of my class. Do they have a favorite class and why? What do they like to do in their spare time? I have a few math projects that help students share a little of themselves in my class. The first is they plan a trip on a budget and I encourage them to pick a place they want to go. As a part of the project they have to write a short essay answering questions such as why they chose their destination. I learn alot about my students from this project. I also have a survey project where students pick a topic, write questions and survey a group of people. I encourage students to pick a topic that they like and know something about so I can learn more about my students again.
    It can be hard to be positive each day but I try. I know that most of my high school students would rather stay in bed than come to math class. So, I need to be the positive person in the room since I am the adult. I try not to complain to my students. I think I succeed but do complain too much to other teachers. I need to work on this!

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  46. One time that comes to mind happened several years ago when I was a full time media specialist. I was working with a fourth grade class and we were designing book jackets in recognition of Children's Book Week. I was blown away by the design of one boy. He was normally a very shy student, hardly ever spoke or even smiled. he struggled in all his other classes. The other students and myself made a huge deal over his artistic ability. We even shared his work with other staff. We were able to make this students day. From that time forward I had a formed a connection with his. By recognizing his special talents he loss owed as a student and with confidence,

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  47. Many students need to have optimism demonstrated to them repeatedly. So often, seeing the world froma dismal and negative point of view has been ingrained in a young person either by unfortunate experiences or their parents/caregivers. Without preaching, an effective way to demonstrate this is by making the classroom a welcoming, active, and supportive place. I love these chapters and the outlook expressed by Kim. Rather that battle the negative thoughts or expressions of a young person, simply choosing to follow with a positive notion acts a springboard to a group trend of forward-thinking. Equally important is the preparedness to celebrate the individuals in the classroom. Selfishly, the reward is so entertaining because students open-up and become themselves. With an optimistic and accepting adult in the room, young people can flourish and it makes me feel like I am accomplishing something of great value. I spend time every day selecting students to tell a joke, play rock-scissor-paper, sing, rap, draw, share a favorite recipe, etc as a way to laugh and become closer as a group. I want my students pulling for each other. Sometimes it is recognizing a talent, but mostly it is recognizing a trait that makes and individual unique or special. When it can be valued in others, it is more readily valued in ourselves. Sharing and the classroom are inseparable for me as a teacher.

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  48. I always love to see the talents students have that may not be apparent in my classroom. Last year I had a student who was very talented in art. He was trying to finish a semester project and I would let him leave my Geometry class a few minutes early if he was finished with the homework for the day. I knew he was stressed about finishing his project and this allowed him to get to the art room and get started. He really appreciated that I was willing to bend the rules a little and although Geometry wasn't his favorite subject, we developed a good relationship.

    I really enjoyed reading Kim's notes at the end of chapter 7. I like the phrase "we need to work hard to gobble up the negatives". It is very easy to fall into the trap of those negatives and I like the homework assignment to count how many times you are complaining. I am going to start that this week to see what kind of energy I may be spreading.

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  49. Every year, I am amazed at the talents of my young students. This year, I have kindergarten students who speak several languages, one who sang a SOLO in the school wide talent show, children who dance and do gymnastics... My favorite talent to discover, though, is the surprise readers! When my students start school each year, I always have one or two who are reading way above a kindergarten grade level, and it's just exciting to watch the early love that they have for books and knowledge. :)
    In my classroom, I try very hard to focus on the positive. I feel like you get what you emphasize, and if I want wonderful behavior/effort, then I need to consciously focus on it. I have a traditional clip system where clips move up or down for goo/bad behavior, but I also have a positive reinforcement system that I use WAAAAY more called "Build your own rainbow." Each child has all of the colors of a rainbow, and when they are being particularly wonderful, they can earn a color. They can never lose a color. Once a rainbow is complete, they pick a prize from my prize box, and then start all over. Rainbows are always being built, over and over again. The kids love it, and love to share news of rainbows with parents. This constant focus on noticing the positive things makes a huge difference difference in my classroom for both my attitude and that of my students!

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  50. Thinking back to everything we have worked on this school year has showed me some of the greatest talents my students never even realized they had. I have followed these students from last year so I know many of their challenges as well as their strengths. This year, I decided to do a unit on illustrations (something that I love doing). Many of my students hate writing and dread writing their own stories. However, this time I decided to give a twist to my writing and write a story similar to a mentor text but have them change it in their own way. We discussed how illustrators get to draw the story the way they see it, not the way the author sees it. This was so fascinating to the students. We even had a visiting illustrator come in to discuss her process. The students really took in what she had to say and ran with it. I really got to see another side of my students. I never knew how artistic some of them were. They blew me away; especially those students who side they were awful at drawing. With placing that extra component to the mix, many students took off with their writing. It was all about giving the opportunity to show me what they could do as well as providing them with the extra boost to do it. I encourage this every day.
    I also enjoyed the idea of following negative comments with positive comments. We work on this in my social skills class. We make a game of it. I will say something negative and the kids have to turn it around. We mock situations that we have had in the past and try to learn from it. Anytime throughout the day, if a student makes a negative comment, I try to stop them and give me 2-3 positives about it. For example, homework is stupid: 1. Homework helps me review what I was taught, 2. Homework will help me practice for the test, 3. The more I focus and harder I work, the sooner it will be done.

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  51. I like using the Book Ish by Peter Reynolds, to springboard discussion on our talents. Out of the clear blue, I'll hear a student announce, that something they made or did was ish-like. ( Those students who shine at writing are responding to others and encouraging them by saying, " That is narrative ish" This address the way the author suggest to focus on what you can do instead of what you can't. Students sharing what they are good at has helped others with narrative writing this year. We don't have show and tell, but when a student brings in something they made, or medal they won, I am honored that they were so excited to share their success or talent with me. I do need to look more closely for those other gifts like kindness, encouragement, and generosity. These need to be understood as wonderful abilities too. Thank you for reminding me of this Kim.

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  52. This is ironic that I was a little late in entering this post. This week in our religion curriculum we discussed that God gave us each special talents that we can share with others. Although these children are 4 and 5, they are starting to realize their strengths!We discussed how we can use those talents to help others and to try and teach others. It was amazing to see how at even this young age, my students can grasp and act on that idea. We shared what each thought they were good at and their friends shared what they liked about others. It was really fun to see this interaction!!
    As far as optimism, I am amazed each year and how my children rise to the occasion. Sometimes I feel like some things are out of reach and yet discuss keep on trying so that we can all reach our best. We have used the model that Dorie from the Disney movie Nemo set. "Just keep swimming!" When we are trying to finish something or some one isn't getting a skill I will start singing that song and then I see a smile appear that shows me that they will keep trying and they feel successful.

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