I know this isn't the type of post I usually write, but when I read the article "Are Teachers Okay, No, and Toxic Positivity isn't Helping", I was so upset, I figured I couldn't be the only one who took it personally. I've also had this blog post in my drafts for almost a year, but keep going back to it when I hear the phrase again. I am NOT saying that teachers are okay, because some of the current situations in education are far from ideal. I'm just saying the term "Toxic Positivity" is a buzz word that isn't helping either.
Here me out...
In the article it says, " When someone says to you, “it could be worse” or “look on the bright side,” they might mean well, but what they are saying is an example of toxic positivity. Toxic positivity is when we focus on the positive and reject, deny, or displace the negative. In theory, it sounds like being optimistic, but in reality, pushing aside our unpleasant emotions only make them bigger."
My rebuttal is that saying those positive phrases has situational implications. If I'm talking to a brand new teacher who is about to quit... I'm NOT going to say those things. If I am talking to an experienced teacher who is just frustrated, we might have the "What's going well?" conversation (after I've truly listened of course).
As a positive person by nature, I tend to use phrases thinking more of the power of "yet" in order to get through the day as a coach. If I focused on the negative all day, I wouldn't help a soul move into a better head space. I'm calling "fixed mindset" here. And now... I've made some people mad.
Growth Mindset Tips
These tips were suggested and I agree with most of them, but I want to rephrase them in a more self-care and growth mindset kind of way. These aren't new tips and aren't because of "toxic positivity", they are really because educators are the hardest working people I know!
1. Stop showing up early and staying late.
Instead: Prioritize your day so you don't burn out.
2. Stop taking work with you everywhere you go.
Instead: If you bring things with you, make sure it's only because it will make your daily life
easier and more enjoyable.
3. Stop saying yes to more work because you feel like you should.
Instead: If it brings you joy, say yes. If it doesn't, say no.
4. Rewrite the story: the teacher martyr work 24/7 narrative has got to go.
Instead: Go back to prioritizing your day so you don't end up working 24/7.
5. At the end of the day, teaching is a job, and it’s okay to see it that way.
Instead: Teaching is a calling and if it doesn't bring you joy, you may want to rethink your
career choices. *That may sound harsh, but if you don't love it (most days), then it's okay to
change your path so your job brings you joy.
So now what?...
Resources to help change the script!
Thanks for taking the time to read this post. I'd love to hear your thoughts!
I hope you find at least one resource that can help to add a bit of joy to your every day life!
I'm an Innovative Learning Coordinator in Berkeley County South Carolina and a Google Certified Trainer.