The Key to Staying Positive in Your Classroom: Throw Away Your Depends

Does my attitude depend on others? Be careful – there are always reasons for having a bad one.

As I sit here in the Fort Wayne, Indiana airport at 12:30 pm after my 6 am flight was delayed, I'm still not sure if I'm on the flight to Detroit. The agents are hiding in the back because so many people are upset, they refuse to deal with it one person at a time. I'm not going to let this turn me into a cranky person. My joy doesn't depend upon whether they do their job. It can't or I'm an easy target of the natural happenings of life.

Does your attitude depend?

If you are in education and your attitude depends upon whether things are right in the front office – you'll be lucky to be happy half of the time.

If your attitude depends upon whether your school has a sorry teacher or two – you'll never be happy. Every school I know has a few sorry teachers, sad to say.

Your attitude cannot depend! It cannot.

It cannot depend upon whether it rains or snows. You have no control over that!

It cannot depend upon whether you feel good or not. You have no control over that either!

It cannot depend upon whether there is no drama in your school. There always will be!

If you have a great administrator – thank him or her every day. You are fortunate. Sadly, there are also those administrators, who, overwhelmed and for reasons of their own, hide like these shadowy gate attendants at this airport – afraid of angry people and letting the ire pile up. They hide behind closed doors and sometimes clock out early. This is life.

If all of your colleagues are perfect teachers – enjoy it – it won't last. We all screw up sometimes. Some teachers do the bare minimum – copying worksheets and memos and leaving no imprint on the minds of children except a hatred of the topic. You can't help that. You can't.

If no one in your school has answered the call of the siren song of secret sin – now gone public for everyone to know – be thankful! Because odds are there will often be these scandals.They happen because people are human and make mistakes. Your attitude cannot depend on whether one of these is going on either.

Are you really waiting for the nightly news to be good?

Waiting for everything to be perfect is like waiting for the nightly news to only report good things – it will never happen. Bad things happen. They do – this is earth – not heaven – bad things happen here.

I'm saying this because so often, as a teacher, it is so easy to get upset about things we cannot control. We cannot control others at all. Not one brand new spanking bit.

Quite frankly – if your attitude depends on others – it is like the other kind of Depends. It will always smell because foul stuff is always around you. It is the function of the world that stinky stuff happens. It always will. Your attitude cannot depend upon your environment being squeaky clean. If it does, you'll be disappointed and miserable the rest of your life – whether you teach or not.

As teachers, we must get rid of our depends.

Throw them in the trash and never put them on again! We have to. It is essential that we cultivate an ability to insulate our students. When we close the door, it should be like a cocoon – a safe, secure place.

Take off your Depends!

To do this, we must get rid of our depends. Take off your depends RIGHT NOW!

The Most important “A” in your Classroom

The most important A in your classroom is your Attitude.

Look at that word attitude. — look at it again —

Att – I – tude.

Do you see that?

I am at the center of my attitude. It is me. I'm at the center of my own attitude.

There are times we have to own our attitude and decide to turn it around.

Attitudes spread

I've been in Ft. Wayne this week at the Knight Time Learning Conference in Kendallville, Indiana at East Noble High and they have an ash tree borer that is killing off these lovely ash trees. The only thing they can do is cut out all the trees around when one is blighted. Bad attitudes spread like ash borers – killing off attitudes — beauty, and effectiveness.

East Noble High School has the other kind of attitude – they are some of the most positive, kind, hard working people I've ever met. They are blessed.

The difference between trees and us is that once a tree is blighted – it must be chopped down. You and I can actually do something about our attitudes. We can change.

How can I change my bad attitude?

Sometimes it is just going to a friend and saying:

“You know what, I've had a stinky attitude and I'm done. I'm not going to do this any more. I'm going to do what it takes to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.”

Other times it is decided to stay away from the ash-boring negative talk of some of your colleagues until this most recent happening passes.

Ultimately, there are often times – probably less than you think – when the corruption is so foul that you've made your home in a septic tank and you have to get out.


But every school – I repeat – EVERY SCHOOL goes through cycles. ALL OF THEM.

All have scandals. All have staff members who make mistakes. All have parents with nasty divorces and the drama that ensues. All of them have things that make others angry and irate.

All schools even have people who bide their time and have become people who hold a job instead of doing their job. These people, hold a job because no one else can do those responsibilities but they don't do their job – leaving others to secretly have a hard choice. Do you do the right thing for your students and do the job of another or do you let them fall and hurt more kids in the process? (I admit, I usually do the latter, although it might not be right – I love the kids and they are why I teach. It is infuriating when sorry people get “promoted” to get them away from students but it happens. Move on. It isn't fair but life isn't either. Do your job anyway and love those students. It is the right thing to do.)

If your attitude depends – why not get rid of your depends?

If you're going to be one of those teachers who makes it 30 or 40 years then you're going to have throw your depends away.

Like Dorothy saying “there's no place like home” and clicking her ruby slippers, let's repeat the words that will remind us how to throw away our depends.

  • My attitude will not depend upon whether other teachers do their job.
  • My attitude will not depend upon whether administrators are doing their job.
  • My attitude will not depend upon whether everything is fair around me – life isn't fair. It never will be.
  • I will influence MY attitude. My attitude will be positive and encouraging. I will make no excuses and will not perpetuate negativity.
  • In my classroom, my attitude determines my student's altitude and ultimately their aptitude for my subject. My attitude is important and I will protect it.
  • If my attitude stinks, my students are not old enough to get rid of their depends. Because I love my students, I will do whatever it takes to keep and maintain my positive attitude even if it means distancing myself from colleagues.
  • Nothing good comes out of a bad attitude – they stink.
  • I will do what it takes to be a noble teacher – ANYWAY.
  • I will surround myself with positive people, encouraging books, and avoid whiners.
  • Even when truly tough things are happening, I will do my best to close my door and provide the most positive environment I can for my students. This only depends upon me and my attitude.
  • I will work hard to stay rested and healthy so I have every chance of staying positive in tough times.
  • I will encourage other educators to see the big picture instead of dwelling on the injustices that will happen.
  • If I depend upon anything or anyone it will be my God, my family, and my closest friends and even then, I will know there are times and things I don't understand that I have to leave at the front door of my school so I can teach.
  • My smile depends upon nothing and I will give it freely as I will also give my love, energy, time, and knowledge.
  • My students depend on me and I'll never forget the honor and privilege I have to be given the opportunity to teach them.

Hi everyone, I'm a teacher and I've thrown away my depends. How about you?

Written June 15. It took some time to finish and publish this post.

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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