Relentless Positivity is key to surviving this strange, crazy and unprecedented time. We face challenges every day, and the future is slightly unknown at the moment. Schools are not what they used to be and yet we are trying our utmost to offer our students the very best.
The phrase “Easier Said then Done” comes to mind, and trust me I am like a rollercoaster when it comes to being positive. Some days I wake up excited and raring to go, others I feel anxious and completely “not up for it”. But being positive is possible when you focus on the positives. We have a great job where we get to make a difference. We are no longer confined to zoom for teaching. We can engage with students and in some schools we are doing some actual live music making. We are back in our classrooms, using instruments and computers to make and create music.
Focussing on the positives is however a choice and it is a choice that we need to make. And we do have to be relentless in our approach to this. We have to make sure that every day we choose positive and seek out the best things about our jobs.
I have a few tips that I think might help you stay positive, they certainly help me:
- Switch off in the evenings as much as you can – you have to stop at some point.
- Focus on the students in each class and look for the successes in that moment.
- Don’t worry too much about the future, just focus on each day and each lesson.
- Look at what others are doing and get excited for them and happy that music making is alive in some areas & schools.
- Listen to great music, that always helps me.
- Don’t beat yourself up for not firing on all cylinders. We are living through a 2020 Pandemic!
- Don’t talk too much about the media, it will only get you down! Instead talk about “I’m a Celebrity”, your favourite new recording or a wonderful Deliveroo takeaway you enjoyed.
- Take breaks in the day and get outside and wander around.
- Do a good deed for someone else, that always cheers me up!
- Leave all your work, including your laptop, at school – says the guy writing a blog on his laptop!
Small Things, Big Difference
We are restricted in what we can do at the moment and relentless positivity is therefore key to success. One of the real pathways to feeling positive is to focus on the small things we can do rather than the big things we usually do. Small things can include new ideas for a lessons, individual students rather than large ensembles and little moments of magic in a lessons. Small things can make a big difference in our lessons, and we need to look out for these wonderful moments.
I would like to share some quotes from a Facebook post I started earlier on this evening. These are small moments in the day that cheered up fellow music teachers!
“Mine today was a student discovering Figaro Act 2 Finale for the first time – so great to be there for moments like that!”
Mine today was rehearsing songs with a year 11 student who has grown immeasurably in confidence since I last heard her. The transforming power of music!
I loved the enthusiasm of my Y10 group as we were learning about concerto grosso and listening to Brandenburg. It was so wonderful to see their hands going up, eager to answer some challenging questions!
I love reading about the moments that others enjoy in their days. Look for these moments in your pursuit of relentless positiviity
Join with others
Being positive is fun on your own, but more fun with others. Joining with others in a positive way rather than negative rant, seems like a good idea. I love being part of MTA as I get to share and work with colleagues up and down the country. I also love jumping on to Facebook groups to see what others are doing. Instagram & Twitter are also great as I get to see photos of young people loving making music. When we unite with others then our positivity will grow.
The opposite of course is when we get into a long discussion that turns negative and sour. This is no good for anyone and I would love to see social media and the news more positive some days.
So find colleagues to share and celebrate with, and don’t be ashamed of what you are doing. We need to be sensitive at times, but we also need to keep the #CanDoMusic mantra going. We have to look at what others are doing to keep us motivated.
Whilst some people find such positivity annoying, I think it is essential for surviving this Pandemic. But I also think it is essential for teachers at any time. When we let the negatives flood our days we only end up feeling fed-up and unhappy. When we see the positives and share the positives, we not only feel better, but we also brighten up someone else’s day.
We have the greatest job in the world and we are making a difference. It isn’t always easy, but we can do it! being positive isn’t always easy, and it is fine to have down days, weeks and even months. But I think it is always good to pursue relentless positivity and share that with others.
So tomorrow, look for your moment and, as I say to my students, gather your moments. Collect those wonderful parts of your day and job and hold them close to your heart. It might be a small thing, a little comment or a major breakthrough. Just gather the moments that make the job worth doing! Enjoy the little things in your relentless pursuit of positivity.
And thanks to Julian Whittaker for the quote – Relentlessly Pursue Positivity!