Stephanie Vasse Every day it seems that students are doing better in my eyes than they are in the eyes of other teachers. I realize it is something of my own perspective coming into play every time I say So and So did very well today, or [Boy] was really great on his quiz today, because I tend to look at people in a positive light. I always think its more important to focus on the good than the bad, but I consistently feel like an outsider for doing this. This is not something I only notice in school with students. When others at my Publix job start talking negatively about other people we work with, I am often surprised because I have only caught the positive about someone. Sometimes I feel shortsighted or overly optimistic. However, I am trying to put a new perspective on my attitude. At the prompting of the principals who came to the panel at UAHuntsville the other night, I began reading What Great Teachers Do Differently by Todd Whitaker. This was a book they swore by and encouraged us to read so we could reference it during our job interviews. I honestly read the book as a sort of requirement, something to do for professional development and not my own enjoyment, but when I cracked it open I found myself reading the whole book in one sitting and truly appreciating and enjoying the message. The content of the book is remarkably positive. Whitaker describes how great teachers focus on positivity, giving authentic praise, treating all students as if they were the good students, and many other strategies (14 in all) for self-monitoring how we behave as teachers. The book also attacked negativity and the attitude teachers have about the worst class theyve ever had (which is naturally almost every year). Looking back at the
last week, where I felt overwhelmingly like my positive attitude was somehow too nave or too forgiving to be helpful in the classroom, this book gives me a new perspective. I like being a positive person; I intend to keep doing it. However, the book also pointed out how we shouldnt lower our standards to suit the worst people. Instead, we should strive to accommodate the best first, making them feel comfortable and welcome. Then, we need to make the worst uncomfortable with being the worst, give them a reason to better their behavior. If you call out the whole class because of one or two students, youve ultimately failed the class. The problem needs to be cut off from the start. My first step when I take over the classroom: a new seating chart.