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Choose Optimism, it Feels Better!

Hellen Keller was an icon. “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement” is a famous quote of hers; my favorite quote because it embodies the sentiment I feel about Education as a whole. I interpreted her quote through educational means for this post. By choosing optimism in life and in the classroom – you choose achievement and the movement towards success with your students. Optimism is contagious, invigorating, and inspirational. Teachers, educators, and parents alike must set their sights high and adhere to optimism for their students. We set the example. Make sure it is a positive one.

I choose Twitter to share ideas with other professional educators that I would not be able to otherwise; they are all over the globe. The most innovative and current ideas for student success are shared through tweets, re-tweets, and #hashtag discussions. Twitter for education is a success. I use Twitter to communicate information that will encourage other educators to be optimistic with students; looking towards the future with increased hope, more empowerment, more ideas, and greater enthusiasm. Educators are looking forward to progress in every student’s educational career. Twitter is one way to take part in empowering students. For example, #EdChats on Twitter involve educators from all over, learning and sharing valuable information, on just about every topic relevant to education. We have Twitter conversations about how to make the learning experiences of  Pre-K through 12 students truly authentic, particularly mindful, engaging, and empowering. Twitter helps make it possible for me to communicate with top educators; to truly take part in educational chats; to help students to thrive for success; allow educators to gain a global connection that will affect students in a positive way. Maybe your students could experience Twitter as well?

Depending upon the policies in place for your learning environment, you may be able to merge Twitter into your week. The whole point of sharing information on a platform such as Twitter for educators is to learn from one another, to look at adverse situations teachers face daily or weekly or monthly, and collaboratively come up with solutions to make every teaching environment and teachable moment the best it can be. This is an option for students as well: sharing relevant knowledge of an idea on Twitter that can be applied to real-life, student-life, situations which can be an incredible feeling in and of itself. Knowing that your knowledge will help an educator or a student is empowering. One great way for students or teachers to share positive, educational experiences is to create a classroom Twitter account. So many possibilities!

My village, or my ‘PLN’, includes #EdChat participants that focus on different aspects of the teaching field. For example, ADHD in the classroom; Math strategies for all students, Reading and Writing documentation, inspiring morning routines that help celebrate each day, technology in the classroom, developing digital citizens for the future, and so much more. The educators that I interact with are positive, ready to meet all student needs, and are proactive in choosing optimism. I choose optimism because I see it as a path to achievement and success, for students and for educators.

Quotes, such as Helen Keller’s, on the classroom board first thing in the morning can set the mood for the day. I wanted to share this quote with you because I hope that it resonates with you as it did with me. Helen Keller epitomized the act of being optimistic; in life, under adverse conditions, and in achieving success in spite of it. Educators truly are working in difficult conditions in today’s world of teaching. Teachers face scrutiny on a daily basis. Standardized testing and changing public policies can have an arduous cause and effect relationship on the path to student learning. Yet, I still feel it is true: educators that choose to be optimistic? They take the road to achievement for students in their classroom. Positive energy begets positive energy.

What are other ways to interject optimism into the journey of achievement and success in your learning environment? And how do you carry that out in your daily life? What are your ideas? What are your strategies? What are parts of your routine that are implemented so that optimism is always on the classroom menu?

Here are a 3 creative, optimistic, and elaborated ideas that I would like to share with you:

  1. A great way to engage students is through pictures and video created in the classroom. Taking pictures of one another is fun; selfie shots are too! Pictures of completed tasks, before shots and after shots, and seeing the entire project through the process of learning a lesson is exciting! Pictures displaying final results can be used as a presentation board. What is most important is that you see the progress in the learning process throughout the pictures or video. Students and teachers become so engaged in the project that the idea of learning is secondary and authenticity is number one. More on this in another blog post.
  2. Why not enjoy and analyze an inspirational quote? A quote meant to generate discussion, first among peers, and then with the teacher. Use quotes from all genres, including varied people, through different time periods, to keep the momentum going for critical thinkers in your learning environment. You may delve into a topic that may even be necessary for the classroom using critical thinking skills. On certain days, celebrate the message of the quote. Personally, I love to ‘like’ quotes on Goodreads. Your students could actually do the same, creating their own Goodreads account, if the powers that be allow it. The quote I picked at the beginning of this blog post was to generate deeper discussion and to use and apply critical thinking skills. I have explained how I do apply the quote to my everyday life. Just one more quote! The following is another of my favorites for students: ” Friendship … is born at the moment when one man says to another ‘What! You too? I thought that no one but myself ‘…”— C.S. Lewis (The Four Loves). Positive learning experiences with quotes can help students see life from another’s perspective, interpret the quote in their own way, all of which could lead to a group discussion on a deeper level. Collaborative discussions on quotes in any learning environment will also be examined in another blog post.
  3. Shared writing is an excellent source for authentic learning experiences, regardless of age or grade level. Writers need to both see knowledgeable writers at work (a peer or educator modeling experienced writing) and to take part in writing situations as often as possible in authentic and well-documented ways with as much support as possible. Buddy writing, transferring a student-recorded story onto paper, writing mentors within the student’s themselves, writing conferences among peers, the game Concentration in a large group setting and interpreted through writing, pictures of a shared writing experience, think-alouds, and questioning the author… these are all great ideas.  According to NCTE and Sharan A Gibson, Ph.D.: “Shared writing lessons will allow you to both model and actively engage students in the writing processes that they most need to improve their writing.” Every age needs shared writing. Just imagine a story eleventh-grade students could put together collaboratively! This is an optimistic choice. This is how faith leads to achievement and success. The (success) story is the achievement! More about documenting writing ideas in future posts.

My hope is that Helen Keller’s quote inspired you as much as it did me. Students deserve our optimism, generated from parents and educators alike. Helen Keller’s quote generated discussion here with just me. Think about how you could use quotes as a part of your routine. How do you ‘choose’ optimism in life in these challenging times? What positive and creative ideas do you have to offer from your student-learning experiences? Please, share your ideas. I certainly would love to hear from you!