Thursday, January 3, 2019

4 Ways to Create an Optimistic School Culture

Imagine if each school day every teacher arrived with a contagious, optimistic attitude. Research suggests that positive emotions can help solve problems, reinforce resilience, strengthen relationships, and even improve educational outcomes. An important aspect of effective leadership is creating and supporting environments that cultivate optimism, and the start of a brand new year is a great time to cultivate this attitude in your practice!

Here are four of our practical strategies for creating a positive and optimistic school culture.

1. Practice self-care.

Educators do the essential and difficult work of schooling young people, so it is important for them to remember to practice self-care. After one of our leadership workshops, a principal asked, “What can I do to reduce my stress?” He said he felt pressure to perform at peak levels—all day, every day—when meeting with teachers and interacting with students. We shared that leaders can benefit from practicing the be-great-for-eight-and-take-a-break strategy. When possible, focus on leadership work for eight minutes then take a short pause to reflect. The principal stated that he loved this idea, and a big smile appeared on his face. He said, “This is a much better idea than what I usually attempt to do, which is to be full on full time, which makes me frustrated and exhausted.”

It also important to focus on the positive. It seems that sometimes educators dwell on what didn’t work well during the school day. Encourage teachers to take time at the end of each day to reflect on what did work well. It might be that a new lesson went particularly well or a student had a breakthrough. Sometimes it is a student’s thank-you that strikes a chord; such gestures let a teacher know that their hard work is being noticed and appreciated. Teachers have shared that the practice of focusing on the positive has been heartening, even in the midst of high-stress days.

Read the entire article at the School Leaders Now website.

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