The most valuable teaching advice I've gotten in a long time seems simple on the surface, but it has revolutionized my school year - For every time you correct a student, create three positive interactions throughout the day. I know. It sounds impossible. Let's be real. Some of the kids that walk in and out of my classroom are just a hot mess. But I have found that the 3:1 plan is a goal that has changed my perspective not just on my students, but on everyone in my life.
The trick is becoming intentional about hunting for light in the darkness. Doing this helps maintain the humanity of those who challenge me. Because my natural response is one of two things. I either avoid because I don't want to deal with the challenge, or I go on off on some vendetta and consider it my mission to nitpick every detail and fix all the problems (feel free to laugh here!). And it's not just with students that I do this!
But here's the truth. I'm not talking about pop psychology and self-esteem raising. Constructive criticism plays a critical role in our growth and development. But we all reach a saturation point of criticism where we start to feel beaten down. I'm not saying every student needs a trophy, but I am saying that we should celebrate the small victories. We don't need to count every wrong or hold grudges (once again, not just talking about students here!). We can face a problem, forgive, and move on. So I am becoming intentional about creating positive encounters with all my students throughout the day, but especially with those who have been a challenge. And this is how we are called to live, to speak truth in love and wrap hard words in grace. It is a way of creating light in darkness and lightening my load. It has helped change my attitude and the attitudes of my students toward me. I want to build up, not tear down and this is a surprisingly easy way to do that. 3 to 1.