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Education, Leadership, Teaching

Why YOUR Attitude Matters

aaaaaaaand smile......

cc flickr photo by nyargle

The relationship between perception and reality is not a new concept, nor is it rocket science.  There are numerous familiar quotes that remind us that attitude is everything.

  • Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character.  ~ Albert Einstein
  • Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.  ~ Winston Churchill
  • Excellence is not a skill.  It is an attitude.  ~ Ralph Winston
  • Leadership is practiced not so much in words as in attitude and actions.  ~ Harold S. Ganeen
  • Attitudes are more important than facts.  ~ George MacDonald
  • Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.  ~ Thomas Jefferson

Given all of the reminders, admonitions, and encouragement, why can it be such a challenge to remain positive?  Shouldn’t we know better?

I haven’t written much in the past month – largely due to a busy school schedule that has been a steady barrage of meetings, professional development, planning and evening events.  My perseverance has been average, at best, as the plethora of activities and commitments has kept me struggling to maintain a positive attitude.  Stress and fatigue have resulted in diminished optimism, more complaining and fewer smiles.  Not good…especially as I consider the potential impact this might have on staff, students, and most importantly, my family.  Without the slightest egotistic inclination, I am aware of the substantial effect my attitude has on others.  The same could be said for you.

As part of my reflection on the issue of attitude, I have come to the conclusion that not only does negativity have an impact on others, but the root of the problem is often selfishness.  By choosing to display a negative attitude, openly complain and generally be discontent, are we not actually asking for attention?  For sympathy?  For pity?  As the familiar adage goes, misery loves company, and finding company is not difficult – family, friends, colleagues or even students are easily drawn into the fray.

So, bringing this back to the realm of education, we have to be diligent…remembering that we are in a profession of service and checking to ensure that our attitude doesn’t put self before others.  We are all keenly aware that education (and life for that matter) is not all sunshine and flowers.  Sometimes we need encouragement.  We need to vent.  We need to lean on colleagues.  But, as Haim Ginot alludes to in his comments on the classroom environment (below), via our attitude, we possess tremendous power to do good, or inflict tremendous harm.  It is our choice – one we make on a daily basis.  My attitude matters.  Your attitude matters.  In fact, it may make all the difference.

I’ve come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom.  It’s my daily mood that makes the weather.  As a teacher, I possess a 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 crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or de-humanized.  ~ Haim Ginot


About azjd

Junior high principal by day, aspiring difference maker, and Jedi in my own mind. Act justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly.


5 thoughts on “Why YOUR Attitude Matters

  1. I want to print this post and pin it by my teaching table–ever so important. Your words strike at the constant challenge educators face in the midst of so many decisions each and every day. As I ponder this post, it makes me realize that our daily routine impacts our work so much. I’m thinking I need to build in that morning walk/exercise, then an attitude check, the daily work with a positive attitude and time for reflection after that. It is okay to share our disappointment and desire for change, but it’s not okay to simply complain and blame. Thanks a million–a timely post.

    Posted by Maureen Devlin | February 12, 2012, 6:26 am
  2. My attitude got in the way of my responsibility of service the other day. It had been a long week, and after three straight days of parent drop-off duty, I was tired and frustrated and checked in on Foursquare with the following comment: “Morning duty…Unlike”.

    Not really paying too much attention to who pays too much attention to me on Twitter, I was shocked that a KGA parent responded to my comment. She was glad to see me out there, smiling, greeting kids and parents three days a week. She even included #buildingcommunity at the end of her reply.

    It was that moment that my negative attitude toward some of what I perceive as trivial in my daily being as a teacher is actually quite meaningful to those I serve. And while I may never like morning duty, I will certainly always do it with a smile and a good attitude.

    Posted by buistbunch | February 12, 2012, 8:42 am
  3. It may sound silly, but it all starts with your response to your co workers when they ask, ‘how are you?’. Just check yourself and choose a more positive word than ‘good’ or ‘surviving’. Add in a little eye contact and a smile and suddenly your better than good. We can’t always feel awesome everyday because teaching is a stressful job, but as you said, our job is a service and we need to put on a strong front. Luckily, there is all sorts of science out there that shows smiling and saying positive things actually changes your mood 🙂

    Posted by little miss sunshine | February 12, 2012, 10:08 am
  4. I agree that the attitude we choose impacts all around us. Some great quotes to use when we need a little reminder / pick-me-up. I also think we only build true community with our colleagues when we are genuine. If ‘surviving’ it the truth of it, then you should be able to say it. That is being ‘real’. To me, the tip to negativism would be if you stopped and ranted about all the things you are ‘surviving’. So, I think the greater challenge is to be positive and genuine. Anyone else?

    Posted by Mrs. L | February 12, 2012, 10:57 am
  5. Dude…Good to see you writing again! I’ve missed your bits in my reader.

    And your attitude is WAY more important than you can possibly imagine. Check out The Progress Principle if you need “proof” that your hunches are right:


    Rock right on — and smile already, would ya?


    Posted by Bill Ferriter | February 18, 2012, 5:53 am

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Jeff Delp

Junior high principal by day, sports enthusiast, technology fanatic and jedi in my own mind. Striving to be a difference maker!
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