Designing Community Conversations is built around two tracks: one formal and one informal. The informal track taps the power of educators to influence communities and thus significantly boost the effectiveness of your conversations.
Accentuate the Positive
Winston Churchill was spot on when he said that “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Research shows that positive thinkers are healthier, less stressed and have greater well being. They’re more resilient, too. When dealing with a challenge, positive thinkers try to fix the problem. Instead of losing hope, they marshal their resources and ask for help.
We now know that positivity leads to better learning, too.
Positive thinkers don’t take a Pollyanna or all-or-nothing approach to life. They see things as they are but choose to pay a bit more attention to the good things, such as a small accomplishment or kindnesses. And they share their positive viewpoints with others instead of well-worn gripes.
In “Schools Cannot Do It Alone,” Vollmer champions “The 5 S’s” to promote positivity in your sphere of influence. They are: Shift, Stop, Share, Sustain, Start.
1: Shift your attention to the positive
What we focus our attention on grows stronger in our life. If we focus on the negative in our classrooms / schools / district, then optimism fades. Conversely, when we focus on positives within our schools, we become more cheerful, alert and productive — more actualized. A subtle shift makes a big difference, and when practiced by the entire staff, the positivity enlivens the district and radiates into the community.
2: Stop bad-mouthing one another in public
Teachers, paraprofessionals, support staff, administrators and board members must stop bad-mouthing one another and their schools, especially in public. This destructive behavior grinds down the public’s opinion of local schools and ensures a lose-lose outcome. With ever-increasing academic, social and medical responsibilities, educators have reasons to complain. But venting in public works against positive change. Consider who might be listening.
3: Share something positive
Everyone has a network of family, friends and neighbors. Even a casual reference that you make about a small breakthrough with a student carries an uplifting message. As the process unfolds and as more educators add their stories, multitudes of positive impulses ripple across social networks. Increasingly, the community is enlivened by good news about their schools, and the growing sense of pride and hope motivates citizens to further improve educational opportunities for area youth.
4: Sustain positive progress
This step requires five minutes, once a week. In a quiet moment, each individual asks, “How many times did I share something positive about my job, my class or my school?” Write the answer down and pledge to add to the total in the coming week. Next week, ask the question again, and record the answer with the intention to do better. That’s all it takes to gain a new appreciation of the power each of us has to change our community.
3: Start now
Encourage public support of our schools by promoting the positive. Start now!
Consider the following: