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The Choice Is Ours

cc licensed flickr photo shared by Yousef AlSudais

I recently stumbled upon a Stephen Covey video on YouTube entitled Carry Your Own Weather via a tweet from someone attending a 7-Habits of Highly Effective People workshop. The video caused me to reflect on my own “weather” and the “weather” we create for others around us.

The video asks us to think about how we feel on a grey, rainy, melancholy day. Do we use the weather as an excuse for feeling gloomy ourselves? Does this mood cause our day to take a downward spiral – where everything seems to go wrong? How does this day compare to days when the weather outside is sunny and beautiful? Covey goes on to ask us to carry our “weather” within ourselves. We can decide to be consistent in our lives no matter the weather or how people treat us.

If you follow any of Covey’s work, this explains Habit #1 – Be Proactive. We have the power to choose how we feel and react to the various stimuli in our lives such as the weather. Covey tells us:

“Your life doesn’t just “happen.” Whether you know it or not, it is carefully designed by you. The choices, after all, are yours. You choose happiness. You choose sadness. You choose decisiveness. You choose ambivalence. You choose success. You choose failure. You choose courage. You choose fear. Just remember that every moment, every situation, provides a new choice. And in doing so, it gives you a perfect opportunity to do things differently to produce more positive results.”

This hit home as I work to bridge my own “Knowing / Doing Gap” as I wrote about in my last post. I can choose how I feel about exercise and healthy eating. Does feeling sore because I’m lifting more weight cause me to complain or feel good that more muscles are developing in my body? Does the thought of working out each day cause to want to avoid it or take an active role? Does avoiding tempting, unhealthy foods cause be to feel slighted or thrilled that the toxins are not entering my body? The choice is indeed mine!

As educators, the choice is ours as well. We choose how we react to situations all around us. We choose the expectations we have for our students. Framing our minds to the positive can make all the difference. Students are always going to come to us with unique needs. Some will be living in poverty, some will be learning English as a second language, some will have challenges with learning, some will carry heavy social/emotional needs, some will have parents who chose not to engage in their children’s education, and the list can go on and on. We set the course for ourselves and these students in the way we frame each situation. If we see these as challenges or even hindrances to our time and efforts we can possibly expect many road blocks along the way. If we are open to framing these situations as opportunities for us to learn and grow as educators perhaps we will produce more positive results.

Many educators can pinpoint a favorite teacher. What qualities did that teacher have that you admired? Chances are many of our favorite teachers where the ones who portrayed positive, proactive characteristics. Were they teachers that could find brightness in any situation? The teachers whose passions for teaching came shining though? The teachers who portrayed an enthusiasm for students everyday? The teachers who didn’t stop learning and who shared their own learning with students often? The teachers who cared? It is our choice to be that teacher for our current students.

The choice is ours. We can choose who we are and how we react to the stimuli all around us – both in our personal and professional lives. One of my favorite quotes is from Haim Ginott. It can apply to our professional and personal lives.

I have come to a frightening conclusion.
I am the decisive element in the classroom.
It is my personal approach that creates the climate.
It is my daily mood that makes the weather.
As a teacher I possess tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous.
I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration.
I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal.
In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis
will be escalated or de-escalated, and a child humanized or de-humanized.

(Created with Haiku Deck – my new favorite FREE iPad App for creating images!)

1 Comment

  • franmcveigh 27 Nov

    Kathy,
    What an important post for this holiday season! We just had Thanksgiving and all the thoughts of “gratefulness” and then Black Friday and Cyber Monday which seem to be about more “material possessions.” (Really, more stuff???)

    Besides being responsible for carrying your own weather and how you feel, I would challenge all readers to “do something” to help out others. It could be volunteering, thoughtful words or deeds, anything to “show” your support for neighbors, elderly, sick, poor . . .!

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