So, what does this 'Opposite Year' look like, you ask? Well, just like George Costanza, I reply/react opposite of what I have typically done in the past. Case in point, I joined SIT, the catchy acronym for our School Improvement Team. This group meets monthly before school to discuss items of interest and help make decisions (at least I think that's what they do!). Although I'm always at school in the mornings in plenty of time to attend, in years past I've chosen to not go, instead hanging out in my room prepping for the day, drinking some coffee, and keeping the secretaries company (since almost every teacher in the building is in this group). So, this year, I'm doing the opposite. I joined and went to the first meeting last Friday and found it a positive experience. I even learned some new acronyms. And I'm not so lonely anymore on the SIT meeting mornings.
Other opposites for me include trying to smile more, especially when talking around and to the students. Not that I was frowning or scowling in years past, mind you. But I am taking the time to listen more and point out the positives, even to a student who might be making a 'not so good' choice. Instead of grumbling and forecasting a long wait in the lunch line before we even leave the room, I tell my students to "Think Positive" as we approach the hallway line. I remind them that 'patience is a virtue' (and then explain exactly what that means) as we too often wait in line behind seventy kindergartners as they inch their way past the pizza and Chips Ahoys. My vocabulary includes many more positive words on a regular basis and not just on Fridays around 3:00.
Being a confirmed "techie" all my life and truly loving technology and trying/learning new things, I was a bit (ok a LOT) cynical when we were informed they were taking all our Macs this summer and swapping them out with Windows machines. Especially since I had converted 100% to Mac over the past ten years in the classroom. Think: MacBook, iPhone, iPod. Again this year I reacted oppositely and tried my best to re-learn Windows systems and get things up and running in my room with technology a.s.a.p. The normal stomp my feet, I don't wanna, you can't make me attitude was crushed out with my new positive attitude. And guess what? I'm finding I'm comfortable with them and have actually enjoyed being forced to change. After all, change is good.
When Halloween rolls around every year, I truly enjoy seeing all the little kids in costume. How much fun they all have as they prance and jump around in their little Power Rangers and Little Red Riding Hood get-ups. However, I detest putting on a costume every year, especially since we are still teaching for the better part of the morning on Halloween day and have professional development in the afternoon. Ever try teaching math dressed as a bug? Can ya'll imagine how fun it is to teach cursive dressed up as a cowgirl? And that witch hat and green wig gets awfully itchy during the class party when the temperature in the classroom spikes to 90. Let's just say, I'd rather not. So, when the staff meeting agenda item of "Decide on Halloween Costume for Staff" arose, I sank lower in my seat and pretended that I was deep in thought. But wait! I needed to think in the opposite direction. I needed to come up with an idea. Later that day on my drive home, I began thinking of Halloween costumes. What better way to spread my positivity theme to an even greater audience? So, I informed a fellow colleague later that night that I was going to come on Halloween dressed with a pageant sash on and a sparkly tiara declaring myself "Miss Positivity 2012"! Since we typically dress as a school wide group, I encouraged her to join in. Let's just say, we are all practicing our pageant wave to the crowd. Even our principal is joining the fun!
By far, the most opposite decision I've made so far was to join the Social Committee at school. Now, it's not that I'm not a social person, but the idea of organizing and attending social functions and putting together adorable matching paper and cards for staff gifts hasn't been high on my "To Do" list. Let someone else handle all that, I used to think. But this year, I'm jumping in. In fact I can't wait for our first meeting so I can help be a part of planning our first social event.
I know it's early, but so far making some opposite choices is keeping me in a more positive state of mind this year. Instead of saying, I'm not -- I'm changing that to Why not? Now, I'm certainly not going to join every committee or club that comes my way. That would just be crazy. But I don't think being a part of things more is gonna hurt.
And if it does, I can always do the opposite next year.
Watch video clip - Doing the Opposite: Seinfeld