It’s All Good: Fostering Excitement for Positive Progress in School

Today a student approached me and said, “I had a good day I art!”

I replied, “Way to go!”

Then, with a huge smile on his face we gave me a fist bump and walked away.  He was exited.  He was proud.  Unsolicited, he was reporting positive progress.

I suppose that I could have read this interaction in a number of ways.  Maybe he spends his days thinking about how he can impress me with good behavior and success reports.  This happens to be a student with whom all of the adults in his life (including me) have been engaged in a targeted effort to understand and address some relatively unique challenges that he’s facing.  He could have been looking for ways to show me that he’s taking responsibility for his learning.  But that would be giving me (and the other adults in his life) a lot of credit.  Maybe our praise isn’t always on his mind (although the concept seems decent fodder for a future reflection).

No, what I’d rather believe is that he could have simply been excited about the positive progress he was reporting.  Even if the thinking about, the planning for, and the reporting of “good” news itself had something to do with the excitement, it could have been ultimately intrinsic, or at least a catalyst to internal satisfaction.

I know a great teacher named Bill Cecil (Best Year Ever: Winning Strategies to Thrive in Today’s Classroom) who talks about “setting the table.”  He insists that it almost doesn’t matter how kids experience the feeling of success initially, just that they do.  He believes that feeling it leaves them wanting more.  So do I.  Maybe this particular student had been building an understanding of what it feels like to have a “good” day and was compelled to share his excitement over that achievement.

In my experience, people (big and small ones) like to do good, to feel good, and to share good.  At the risk of sounding naive, I would like to think that this student found an opportunity to share the “good” that he had done along with the “good” that he was feeling.  Which reminds me that as as an elementary school principal I should be doing all I can to drive a culture in which that kind of sharing is celebrated.  Just a simple “way to go” and a fist bump spread his excitement to me.  I was energized.  I was proud.  I wanted to share.  I’m sharing now.  It feels good!

So, feel good, do good, and share good.  Model the triad to those you serve and embed the practice in your school culture.  Celebrate when others do the same.  People will catch on, it will spread, and most importantly, students will have enhanced opportunities to understand what an incredible impact “good” can have on their motivation and excitement for learning.  I you’re not already, at least give it a try…you might like it.  Even if you don’t, remember that with regard to exploring pathways toward enhanced learning, it’s all good!

Live. Learn. Lead.


Dream Big. Work Hard. Be Well.

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