Image credit: William Jeffrey
This year has already been one for the record books. It's October, and we've seen earthquakes, floods, and wildfires. Imagine starting your first year in education during a year like the one we're currently experiencing. Imagine a classroom of traumatized students displaced by these natural disasters. Imagine mentoring a new teacher during these times. Before we know it, the testing season will be upon us and students will need to be ready. How can we as leaders communicate positivity in the face of adverse situations? Here are three tools to use in your communication with teachers to establish a positive culture that will thrive in times of adversity.
Believe in Them
Teaching is not for everyone. Those who teach shape the world—we forget that in the everyday grind. Therefore, every teacher is special, even the ones who've forgotten their passion. As a leader, look for the gifts that everyone innately possesses, and develop those qualities by authentically supporting your teachers' growth. Authentic support starts with complete candor and patience. Tell teachers that you believe in them and that very few people in the world can do their jobs. A good teacher is irreplaceable and remembered for life by his or her students. Simply tell teachers you believe that they can—and they will.
A good leader knows that a well-placed word can stir people to action. Only a good leader can teach good leadership. Notice how such people speak. The best leaders use positive presuppositions in their speech to motivate and encourage those around them. Positive, supportive, well-placed language will ignite the passion that can support a culture of positivity. A direct result of a supportive culture is the way that its people speak to each other about adversity or during adverse times. There is virtually no fear of failure in these cultures, and teachers grow because of the expectation that they're passionate about students and learning. Teachers within supportive cultures are willing to seek new opportunities for mentoring and share best practices—so let them.
This will sound cliché, but it's the most important thing that you can do: be positive. Positivity without condescension seems difficult to communicate sincerely. This is because most people can see through fake support. If you don’t believe in the person who is doing the job, or in his or her passion to do the job with vigor, being positive can seem like a moot point. However, a positive person with realistic expectations and genuine support in adverse situations can spread a positive mindset like a virus. Being positive also means paying attention to yourself so that you can recharge your own positive battery pack. The best way to remain positive in adverse situations is to surround yourself with people who believe in you. You must also remain passionate about your place as a leader.
Incorporating these three tools into everyday communication will create a viable and elastic culture of positivity in adverse climates. Believing in teachers, igniting their passion, and being positive when interacting with them will transform the worst of cultures. This is the type of year where these attributes need to be at the forefront of conversations. When we are purposeful in how we implement these principles, relationships will improve. Positive relationships are the fuel that drives long-term success. Students will benefit from being in a positive culture where teachers are empowered to grow—even in adverse climates.