10 Tips For Being a Positive Teacher


(Methods students, please note the “Thugging It Up” tagged beside Hope. I chose this photo just for you! Go forth, and thug it up with hope.)

Yesterday I wrote about new teachers and disillusionment and shared my belief that hope is the foundation of professional happiness.  The new teachers I work with don’t need to develop hope–they already have that. But they do need to keep it. Here’s what I do to stay positive:

  1. Be a learner first and always. I’m always learning new things, finding new people to learn from, reading new books, trying new things. My own learning guides what I do in the classroom. Work is always interesting and different because I am constantly growing and bringing different things to my classroom.
  2. Develop a vision statement. If you have a strong vision for your classroom, you know what you want to accomplish and why. You have a goal to strive toward. Laura wrote a wonderful post this week about revising her vision statement.
  3. Be a problem-solver. I do complain. But I try to shift as quickly as possible into problem-solver mode. What can I do to change whatever situation I’m complaining about? Sometimes, honestly, the answer is nothing. But solving problems is much more empowering than wallowing in misery.
  4. Understand that the only person you can change in your classroom is you. I spent plenty of time my first year complaining about students, what they would and, more typically, wouldn’t do,and I wasted a lot of time trying to force students to comply and do what I told them to do. But it turns out that I’m the only person I can change in my classroom. Students will only change when I change. If I don’t like something that’s happening in my classroom, I’m the one who has to do something different. Different input leads to different output.
  5. Find something to love about the student or colleague who most annoys you. When you can find a way to love and appreciate the person who most annoys you, you will realize anything is possible! Also, that person will almost magically stop annoying you so much when you are thinking kind thoughts about them.
  6. Develop a strong PLN. This is actually the solution to every teaching problem.
  7. Do thoughtful things for other people. It’s hard to wallow in negativity when you’re actively doing something. Write thank-you notes to students, staff, colleagues. Leave a piece of candy in everyone’s mailbox. Pick up coffee for your teaching neighbor. The little wandering lost good feeling will follow you for the rest of the day.
  8. Leave work at work. Teaching will take up as much time as you let it. I could work 12 hours a day every day and still never be finished. But you will grow to hate your job if you spend too many hours doing it. Learn how to manage your time so that your work gets done AT WORK, and your home time is for you to recharge, to pursue hobbies, to spend time with friends and family, to relax.
  9. Make time to reflect every day. What worked? What didn’t work? What do you want to try next time? Writing is one of the best ways to problem solve and to discover what you know. Blog, keep a teaching journal, make notes on your lesson plans.
  10. Laugh.

Some good articles I found on avoiding negativity:

Heather Wolpert-Gawron has several suggestions for teachers: “Staying Positive in Trying Times.” 

Is Your Negativity Destroying the Workplace? looks at the causes of negativity and argues that we have to eliminate or reduce those causes, not just treat symptoms.

Angel Chernoff suggests 10 Ways to Defend Yourself Against Negativity.

Steve Moore argues that hope can overcome negativity.

Principal Kendrick’s post on Avoiding Negativity in Teaching is short and practical.






4 responses to “10 Tips For Being a Positive Teacher”

  1. […] How to be a positive teacher […]

  2. Thomas M. Watt Avatar

    I wish I had more teachers like you.

  3. […] In case you missed any of my blog posts this week, I shared what I’ve been reading online, wrote about how to plan an author visit to your classroom, argued that teachers need to be hopeful, and shared some tips for being a positive teacher. […]

  4. Carrie Gelson (@CarrieGelson) Avatar

    Love this list generally but #4 is perfect. We all need to repeat this daily and all will be better! And I live by #10 🙂

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