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Finding Common Ground

A former K-5 public school principal turned author, presenter, and leadership coach, DeWitt provides insights and advice for education leaders. He can be found at www.petermdewitt.com. Read more from this blog.

Education Opinion

Three Positive Campaigns in Education You Need to Know About

By Peter DeWitt — February 14, 2017 5 min read
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Like many of you I’ve spent a good part of 2017 with the Chuck Norris Virus. I refer to it as that because it kicked my butt every day for a few weeks. A virus can seriously knock your priorities back into place, because you’re forced to think about them as you sit on the couch watching countless hours of the Hallmark channel...I mean football.

As much as we have writing assignments, workshops to run and tasks to complete, the Chuck Norris Virus helps you realize that none of those matter unless you get rest and drink plenty of fluids. However, there is another virus that is spreading much quicker than the one most of us had. It’s the virus of negativity. It’s pervasive and wreaks havoc on us when we wake up in the morning and puts negative thoughts in our heads as we try to go to bed.

Perhaps it’s when we turn on the morning television and hear story and after story of what’s wrong with politics, celebrities, education, humanity and the world at large, but things seem heavy these days. It is true that there are many problems in the world that we can’t bury our heads in the sand and ignore. However, do we have to be as negative as we find ourselves to be these days?

As I look at social media, which in the old days used to be fun, I am reminded about how terrible our world is. I mean, after all, some of my friends post daily reminders that the world is coming to an end and there is nothing we can do about it.

Or is there actually something we can do about it?

It’s All In the Attitude
Truth be told I do think there is something we can do about it. I don’t think the world has to be so terrible. I actually believe that every time we wake up in the morning, especially after the Chuck Norris Virus has long disappeared from our days, we can make a positive mark on the world.

Sometimes people believe that change can only happen at the top. It’s the big picture view that if we change the top then everything else will fall into place. I actually have the belief that grass roots efforts are where real change takes place. When we hold the door open for someone walking into a building behind us, warm up the car for our partner or spouse so they have a warm car to get into on their way to work, or merely say good morning to someone on the sidewalk or in the hallway at school, we are starting a grass roots effort to make our daily lives a bit better.

So, in an effort to help you find some positive light in your week and combat some of your friends who seem to only harp on the negative, I wanted to highlight three positive campaigns in education that I keep seeing over and over again. And how is this for a rubric, I’m writing about them because they make me smile. When I see all three they help change my mindset.

The three positive campaigns I think you need to know more about are the following:

#CelebrateMonday - My friend Sean Gaillard is behind Celebrate Monday. I have been on social media for awhile with Sean and had the pleasure of meeting him once when I was providing a training in North Carolina. As awesome as Sean is on social media, he’s even better to talk to in person.

Using the hashtag #CelebrateMonday people Tweet out the reasons why they get to celebrate Monday. Can you imagine that? Instead of focusing on the Sunday night blues because we have to go back to work, people are Tweeting out reasons they feel lucky to enter into a Monday every week. Check out #CelebrateMonday and Sean Gaillard, especially if you’re looking for a little positive inspiration each week.

You Matter - Angela Maiers and her Choosetomatter.org organization really don’t need an introduction. Maiers has about a gazillion followers on Twitter and her smile and message are both infectious...in a good way. Angela has a simple message, that no matter who you are you have a gift to provide the world.

If you’re looking for some research behind You Matter and Choosetomatter.org think of this way...she is trying to raise the self-efficacy of everyone she comes in contact with. Back in the 1970’s self-efficacy was defined by Bandura as, “One’s belief in one’s ability to succeed in specific situations or accomplish a task. One’s sense of self-efficacy can play a major role in how one approaches goals, tasks, and challenges.”

When teachers have a higher level of self-efficacy they believe that they can connect and help any student that enters into their classroom regardless of the child’s background. To me, You Matter isn’t a shiny phrase, it’s a movement to help teachers understand how important they are to the lives of children.

5 Positive Hallway Conversations - On January 3rd, Assistant Principal Aaron Hogan Tweeted out an image providing suggestions of five positive hallway conversations that people could engage in for 2017. I have had the pleasure of meeting Hogan in College Station when I gave a training, and he is awesome.

Hogan’s message was fairly simple. He wanted to build a grass roots effort for people to engage with students. If you click here you will see the image he Tweeted out, and please feel free to Tweet it out as well. However, the five suggestions he gives are:

  • Address a student by name during each passing period
  • Hold a door open for students
  • Wish students good luck on game day
  • Thank students for meeting expectations
  • Look out for those who are having a bad day

Feel free to add your suggestions to the hundreds of Tweets Aaron is receiving in response to his positive conversations.

In the End
Tired of the negativity we are constantly reading? Do something about it. Start spreading some positive conversations around the school building or at home. We live in a world with many problems but we contribute to that by being negative and acting like there is nothing we can do about it.

Check out the 3 positive campaigns from above, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll be inspired to start your own. This isn’t some fluffy thing that has no meaning. A positive campaign can improve home lives and school climates.

Peter DeWitt, Ed.D. is the author of several books including Collaborative Leadership: 6 Influences That Matter Most (September, 2016. Corwin Press/Learning Forward). Connect with Peter on Twitter.

The opinions expressed in Peter DeWitt’s Finding Common Ground are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.