We start another school year feeling excited, joyful, and optimistic. After the summer hiatus, most of us are ready to get back on a regular schedule, we are happy to see our friends again, and we are eager to resume learning. Most people thrive on routine, structure, and a little push, so returning to the classroom is the perfect antidote.
But this year, once again, feelings of concern, uncertainty, and a bit of fear still loom large. The uptick in COVID cases and recent events on the national and global scene remind us all that peace and security are not guaranteed. Students, too, are anxious on many levels, and they are not always able to express their concerns as clearly as adults. Unfortunately, many of today’s worries are beyond our control, and everyone’s patience seems to be wearing thin. Angry outbursts are much too common as people’s frustrations are getting the best of them.
At our staff meetings prior to the start of school, I encouraged everyone to seek out the good and the positive every day. This has been pretty easy so far. Teachers shared so many wonderful moments as they welcomed students back to the classroom. The smiles, laughter, and energy from the children affirm our vocation. It has been an exceptional start to the new year for all of us (aside from the utility work on Pomerado Road!). Teachers are asking students to focus on the positive each day as well, because by re-playing and re-living joyful experiences, these moments are cemented in our brain and can improve attitudes. Likewise, when we re-play, re-live, and mull over bad experiences, they take on a life of their own, and often become blown out of proportion. In short, in the words of Star Wars and Indiana Jones director George Lucas, “Your focus determines your reality.”
So, this year, as you retrieve your child from the pick-up line at the end of the day, the first question you should ask is, “What was the best thing that happened to you today?” (Don’t accept “nothing” as a response). Of course, you will eventually want to discuss and problem-solve any unpleasant experience they might have had, but always start with one or two positive examples. We might not be able to solve any of the major national and global issues, but at least we can make our own little corner of the world peaceful and happy.