Ying and Yang - The Power of Positive and Negative

Throughout the summer I will transfer over my favorite blogs from another blogging platform. Today's post argues the importance of hearing multiple voices - especially when you don't agree with them. 

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January 19, 2014

Everyone wants to know they are valued and valuable.

This is true with children and adults. This is true with teachers and administrators. No one wants to be blamed for failure, and everyone wants their voices heard.

Sometimes, however, the negative voices are the loudest and most boisterous while the positive voices stay silent. I argue that both voices must be heard and honored.

Sometimes people, including teachers, just want to vent. The voices sound angry, but once they vent, they return to their true love - our precious children. Other times people, including teachers, become tired of venting and want change.

I am one of those people.

As a positive person I choose to work with the system instead of against it. I also choose not to remain silent.

I have been fortunate in my teaching career in a high poverty school district. My colleagues and administrators have listened to me enough that I know I am valued. My colleagues, administrators, and students have challenged me on a daily basis to improve my teaching skills and methods. Some of my ideas are supported; most are shot down. But I am also stubborn. I refuse to be shut down. I listen to naysayers’ valid concerns and remold my failed plans. But

I refuse to play victim.

I recognize that the last statement may come across as offensive. The statement itself seems to blame the victim. That is far from what I intend. People who refuse to play victim recognize that they are a formidable force for change. They empower themselves and others around them.

Recently I used the “Don’t play victim” statement with a critical colleague of mine.  While he and I rarely see eye to eye, I value his critical nature because all ideas must withstand criticism if they are to be successful. And, I know that he cares about the school because we attend the same 6:45 am Friday Guiding Coalition weekly meeting.

“I am waiting for the ACLU to win the lawsuit against the parents who send their children to schools across town,” he said, somewhat tongue-in-cheek in response to the new boundary changes that will impact our school.

“Don’t play victim,” I retorted. “If parents want to send their children to a 'so-called privileged' school, let’s win them back with a PR campaign that shows parents how awesome our school truly is. Let's use Twitter and the news media to show the world how awesome our students and teachers are.”

You see, a person who refuses to play victim recognizes that problems exist but also recognizes his or her own power to address those problems. It may take time, it may be draining, it may not be in our initial image of perfection, but change does occur.

I choose to think positive in a cloud of grey because I want change to occur. I am not a yes-ma’am. I have been fortunate enough to have administrators who do not always agree with me but most definitely listen and challenge me. I refuse to sit in a meeting, as I have in the past, bottling my emotions. I refuse to become angry just because everyone else is angry. I refuse to shut up just because my voice is the minority.

If you are offended by a comment, ask for clarification. If you don’t agree with the direction of the school, respectfully voice your opinion - not just to your friends behind closed doors, but also to the ones you think possess the power. Listen to the opposing side, validate their concerns, and move forward together.

Positive teachers do not believe that everything is perfect, that we must hold hands and sing kumbaya, that we must follow our administrators like sheep. Rather, positive teachers recognize the power of positive thought, stubborn persistence, and working together.

Negative teachers equalize positive teachers. They make us re-evaluate our ideas and help us mold better ones that benefit everyone.  As long as the negative voices are not the loudest and most boisterous, as long as those voices do not kill the dreams of aspiring teachers, as long as their love for their students still shines through, negative voices can be a powerful force.

Our schools need both voices - the positive and the negative - the ying and the yang - if we are to be successful. Neither should be shut down because, in the end,

everyone wants to know they are valued and valuable.


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