The lyrics to the song go like this –
“Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative; don’t mess with mister in-between.”
And yet as teachers we are pulled in both directions and do indeed find ourselves “in-between.”
The Common Core standards and the expectation that we are daily collecting data on how well our students are doing actually force us to focus on the “gap” between what is expected and what our kids can do at any given moment. When you focus on what’s not being met, you focus on the negative.
On the other hand, proponents of inclusion, responsive teaching, and issues surrounding our diverse student populations beg that we focus on our student’s strengths, talents, and interests – their assets. When you focus on what a child does well, you focus on the positive.
Is there a way to do both? According to our song, we better find a way to focus on the positive first and foremost, or else!
“You’ve got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom, down to the minimumOtherwise pandemoniumLiable to walk upon the scene.”
Can we monitor students’ progress by displaying how well they are doing instead of how poorly?
We can collect that daily data, make those charts and graphs, and still be asset-minded. It’s a choice.
The positive mindset is one that is more flexible. It promotes a more positive learning environment and can break the fixed mindset that says “If we treat students like they will always struggle, then they may always struggle” – both can be self-fulfilling prophecies.
But it will take more than changing your mind from negative to positive thinking about the ability of kids; it takes action.
What will you do differently this year?