Sometimes you can learn a lot from a kid. This year, my teacher is a little girl in my 3rd grade class, and she doesn’t even know it. She’s not the smartest student in my class, or the most productive or successful. As a matter of fact, her attentional difficulties often prevent her from completing her work, having the correct materials out, or handing in the homework she has done. Even with all of this working against her, she is always smiling, quick to give a hug, and often says that just right thing at that just right moment to turn my mood around. So what is her secret? I think I have it figured out.
First, she is easily satisfied. She is so happy to be at school. She is so happy to be at home. She is happy to read with her little brother, or give a partner the color marker she wants. She is happy to draw a cute cat, or write a poem for her teacher. If her paper is a mess, it’s ok with her. If her neighbor sneezes snot all over her workbook, she’s forgiving before he apologizes.
Second, she appreciates. She appreciates a smile in her direction, someone picking up her pencil, the papers I just handed out to everybody. She always loves the characters in the books she reads, or the math game we are about to play. It is a genuine and automatic appreciation . At least 5 times a day she starts her sentence with “I just love…”
And third, she cares at least as much about everybody else’s feelings as she does about her own. Once I had just given a math test and was correcting them while the students had their snacks. I don’t know if she noticed the expression on my face, or what clued her in to my concern, but she approached my table and said, “If I flunked it’s ok. I’ve been flunking things since kindergarten. It’s not you.” And then she gave me a hug. What do you do with that???
So that’s what I’ve learned about positivity from this third grader. Be satisfied. Appreciate. Care.