The Power of a Positive Educator

The Power of a Positive Educator


When I think about the teachers who made a difference in my life I realize they were all positive. Mrs. Liota smiled every day and made me feel loved. Coach Caiazza believed in me while Mr. Ehmann encouraged me to be my best. Years later as I think about the impact these teachers had on my life it’s clear that being a positive educator not only makes you better it makes everyone around you better. Positive educators have the power to transform lives and inspire young minds to believe they can and will change the world. In this spirit here are seven ways we can all choose to be a positive educator.

1. Be Positively Contagious – Research shows that emotions are contagious. Sincere smiles, kind words, encouragement and positive energy infect people in a positive way. On the flip side your students are just as likely to catch your bad mood as the swine flu. So each day you come to school you have a choice. You can be a germ or a big dose of Vitamin C. When you choose to be positively contagious your positive energy has a positive impact on your students, your colleagues and ultimately your school culture. Your students will remember very little of what you said but they will remember 100% of how you made them feel. I remember Mrs. Liota and her smile and love and it made all the difference.

2. Take a Daily Thank you Walk – It’s simple, it’s powerful, and it’s a great way to feed yourself with positivity. How does it work? You simply take a walk… outside, in a mall, at your school, on a treadmill, or anywhere else you can think of, and think about all the things, big and small, that you are grateful for. The research shows you can’t be stressed and thankful at the same time so when you combine gratitude with physical exercise, you give yourself a double boost of positive energy. You flood your brain and body with positive emotions and natural antidepressants that uplift you rather than the stress hormones that drain your energy and slowly kill you. By the time you get to school you are ready for a great day.

3. Celebrate Success – One of the simplest, most powerful things you can do for yourself and your students is to celebrate your daily successes. Instead of thinking of all things that went wrong at school each day focus on the one thing that went right. Try this: Each night before you go to bed think about the one great thing about your day. If you do this you’ll look forward to creating more success tomorrow. Also have your students do this as well. Each night they will go to bed feeling like a success and they will wake up with more confidence to take on the day.

4. Expect to Make a Difference – When positive educators walk into their classroom they expect to make a difference in their student’s lives. In fact, making a difference is the very reason why they became a teacher in the first place and this purpose continues to fuel them and their teaching. They come to school each day thinking of ways they can make a difference and expecting that their actions and lessons will lead to positive outcomes for their students. They win in their mind first and then they win in the hearts and minds of their students.

5. Believe in your students more than they believe in themselves – I tried to quit lacrosse during my freshman year in high school but Coach Caiazza wouldn’t let me. He told me that I was going to play in college one day. He had a vision for me that I couldn’t even fathom. He believed in me more than I believed in myself. I ended up going to Cornell University and the experience of playing lacrosse there changed my life forever. The difference between success and failure is belief and so often this belief is instilled in us by someone else. Coach Caiazza was that person for me and it changed my life. You can be that person for one of your students if you believe in them and see their potential rather than their limitations.

6. Develop Positive Relationships – Author Andy Stanley once said, “Rules without relationship lead to rebellion.” {Tweet That} Far too many principals share rules with their teachers but they don’t have a relationship with them. And far too many teachers don’t have positive relationships with their students. So what happens? Teachers and students disengage from the mission of the school. I’ve had many educators approach me and tell me that my books helped them realize they needed to focus less on rules and invest more in their relationships. The result was a dramatic increase in teacher and student performance, morale and engagement. To develop positive relationships you need to enhance communication, build trust, listen to them, make time for them, recognize them, show them you care through your actions and mentor them. Take the time to give them your best and they will give them your best.

7. Show you Care – It’s a simple fact. The best educators stand out by showing their students and colleagues that they care about them. Standardized test scores rise when teachers make time to really know their students. Teacher performance improves when principals create engaged relationships with their teachers. Teamwork is enhanced when educators know and care about one another. Parents are more supportive when educators communicate with their student’s parents. The most powerful form of positive energy is love and this love transforms students, people and schools when it is put into action. Create your own unique way to show your students and colleagues you care about them and you will not only feel more positive yourself but you will develop positive kids who create a more positive world.

If you commit to being a positive educator I encourage you to read and commit to The Positive Teacher Pledge.

The Positive Teacher Pledge

  • I pledge to be a positive teacher and positive influence on my fellow educators, students and school.
  • I promise to be positively contagious and share more smiles, laughter, encouragement and joy with those around me.
  • I vow to stay positive in the face of negativity.
  • When I am surrounded by pessimism I will choose optimism.
  • When I feel fear I will choose faith.
  • When I want to hate I will choose love.
  • When I want to be bitter I will choose to get better.
  • When I experience a challenge I will look for opportunity to learn and grow and help others grow.
  • When faced with adversity I will find strength.
  • When I experience a set-back I will be resilient.
  • When I meet failure I will fail forward and create a future success.
  • With vision, hope, and faith, I will never give up and will always find ways to make a difference.
  • I believe my best days are ahead of me, not behind me.
  • I believe I’m here for a reason and my purpose is greater than my challenges.
  • I believe that being positive not only makes me better, it makes my students better.
  • So today and every day I will be positive and strive to make a positive impact on my students, school and the world!

Download, Print and Share The Positive Teacher Pledge Here.

Comment On and Share This Article Here.

– Jon

Reblogged from the Jon Gordon newsletter

The Indignity of Giving Thanks

The Indignity of Giving Thanks

The spirit of thanksgiving runs against the temptation we face as human beings to assert our self-sufficiency. Few of us enjoy the feeling of indebtedness; a fact easily demonstrated by our oft-unsolicited readiness to return a favor once someone has expressed kindness to us. I owe you one, I will return the favor, and I am in your debt are some of the ways in which we express this attitude. Such responses, together with the more modest one, please let me know what I can do for you, allow us to express gratitude without acknowledging the chronic shadow of dependence that so rudely dogs our entire threescore and ten.


Not only does this inability to express gratitude without our own autonomy stealing the show sometimes rob of us of the joy of affirming the contribution of others to our wellbeing, it also shrivels up our desire to worship God. An unexamined sense of self-sufficiency instills in us a subtle but false attitude of entitlement, thus making it difficult for us to accept the sense of vulnerability that is part of true gratitude. Ever since the tempter said to Adam and Eve in the Garden, “You will be like God,” human beings have never given up the temptation to either elevate ourselves to the level of God or pull God down to our level, so we can deal with God as equals. We are always looking for a chance to say to God, “I can take it from here.”


Such an attitude of entitlement, I believe, occupies a central role in the story of the ten lepers in Luke 17.  While all ten are healed by Jesus, only one of them returns to express gratitude. In his editorial comment, Luke informs us that the one who returned to give thanks was a Samaritan, and Jesus refers to him as a foreigner. Undoubtedly,lepers this implies that the other nine were Jews. Could it be that the Jewish lepers felt entitled to the services of this Jewish prophet and their God? If God were to begin to right wrongs in the world, wouldn’t the most logical place to begin be among his own chosen people? Judging by Jesus’s expression of surprise in the passage, it seems the only words one would have expected from the mouths of the nine lepers would have been, “It’s about time!” Without a clear sense of how little we are entitled to, we cannot really come to terms with the need for gratitude—for an attitude of entitlement is an effective impediment to gratitude.


But everything we know about ourselves and our world speaks loudly against this tendency to self-sufficiency. As human babies, we all begin our lives at the highest level of dependence, and none of us really outgrows all degrees of dependence. We depend on parents, teachers, peers, coaches, and others to open doors for us in life. Even in places where commitment to personal autonomy is likely to produce more martyrs than religious conviction, dependence on others is still a living reality whose attempted concealment is gradually unveiled by the onset of old age. From the inventions that give us comfort in this world to the young soldiers who give their lives in the battlefields to protect our livelihoods, an unobstructed view of our lives reveals the fact that we all owe debts that we can never repay. We will never begin to worship God until we recognize that we are bankrupt debtors, for an attitude of gratitude is an indispensable impetus to worship.


Like skilled gourmet chefs spicing up their delicacies, Scripture writers sprinkle their words with admonitions and exaltations regarding gratitude, frequently tying it together with worship. For example, in the midst of a dark catalogue of humanity’s journey away from God, the apostle Paul lays the blame on our unwillingness to glorify God or give thanks to God. Similarly, the author of Hebrews grounds our worship of God in gratitude. He writes, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe” (Hebrews 12:28). It is impossible to worship God without gratitude, and it is impossible to be grateful while clinging to self-sufficiency and entitlement at the same time. Yes, there is some vulnerability in gratitude sincerely expressed, but that is because we are relational beings whose deepest needs can only be met in partnership with others and ultimately with God. While an attitude of entitlement is an impediment to gratitude, an attitude of gratitude is an indispensable impetus to worship. Show me a person whose life is characterized by gratitude, and I will show you a person whose soul is poised to worship God.


J.M. Njoroge is a member of the speaking team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

reblogged from



Louie Schwartzberg is an award-winning cinematographer, director, and producer whose notable career spans more than three decades providing breathtaking imagery for feature films, television shows, documentaries and commercials.

This piece includes his short film on Gratitude and Happiness. Brother David Steindl’s spoken words, Gary Malkin’s musical compositions and Louie’s cinematography make this a stunningly beautiful piece, reminding us of the precious gift of life, and the beauty all around us.

Gratitude springs from acceptance of the gifts and the conditions and the circumstances that God gives. Are you grateful for the place that you live? Are you grateful for the job that God has given you to do? How many of you have thought today of thanking God for the work that He has given you to do?

What makes a holy woman or a holy man. One characteristic is gratitude. I think we might divide up all the people in the world into two classes-the complainers and the thankful. Which are you? There’s a difference between a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day and a peaceful and a happy one. I think that it does not depend nearly so much on what happens as it depends on your attitude and your response.

If you dwell on your own feelings about things, rather than dwelling on the faithfulness, the love and the mercy of God, then you’re likely to have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Our feelings are very fluctuating and ephemeral, aren’t they? We can’t depend on them for five minutes at a time. But dwelling on the faithfulness and the love and the mercy of God is always safe, because He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Now I’m one who is having to learn this lesson of gratitude. Not that I don’t have thousands of things to be grateful for, but I also happen to be born with an extremely critical mind. It’s very easy for me to pick on the one thing that’s wrong rather than to concentrate on the ten things that were right. That goes for a lot of different areas of my life.

I realize that I don’t spend nearly enough time praising God. I try to begin my quiet time with acts of praise. Very often, it’s helpful to use somebody else’s words to do that. I think hymns are a wonderful help, so let me just make that tiny suggestion that you begin your day with thanking the Lord. There are a lot of things you can think of yourself. The very fact that you’ve had a good sleep in a comfortable bed and that you’re able to get out of bed and the measure of health that you have and the work that you have to do-all of those things you can thank God for.

But it’s great to use the exalted words, perhaps, of the Psalms. Psalm 138 would be a good one to start with. “I will praise Thee, O Lord, with all my heart. Boldly, O God, will I sing psalms to Thee. I will bow down towards Thy holy temple. For Thy love and faithfulness, I will praise Thy name; for Thou hast made Thy promise wide as the heavens.” Psalm 138. Try that one. It would be a good idea to memorize it, an act of praise to God.

There’s always plenty to complain about, I guess, if your life is controlled by your feelings. But there’s always much more to thank God for if our lives are controlled by our dwelling on His faithfulness, His love and His mercy.

I had a very encouraging letter from a lady who had listened when I interviewed my friend Gail Sommers. She says, “Gail Sommers spoke the truth as few Christian women have the boldness to do. The wonderful fact is that Gateway To Joy was equally daring to air it. I grow so weary of middle-of-the-road stances on this issue.” Gail had been talking about working mothers, and Gail herself is a part-time working mother.

This lady who writes says, “I am 47 years old, a mother who gave up a professional career to stay home.” She goes on to say that she doesn’t find the care of children easy, as Gail Sommers herself admitted. It’s a tough job. But she says, “Nonetheless, having the opportunity to be a homemaker and mother gave me true fulfillment. As I was reminded of this during the week’s broadcasts, I was able to go to my husband and thank him for having given me that opportunity and blessing.”

Let me say here that those of you who are able to stay home to take care of your children because your husband is willing to let you stay home and doesn’t insist upon your getting a job to supplement the family income, have you thought of thanking him? This was a good reminder in this letter. This lady went to her husband and thanked him.

She goes on to say, “There is no explaining the contentment I felt as I mothered. Though I knew we had to do without some material things and though I knew there was always the awareness in my husband’s mind that some things we could not afford, I had not ever specifically thanked him for enduring the pressures as provider and for keeping the value of his wife being at home.”

To you men who endure the pressures as provider, may I say thank you, especially those of you who are willing to make sacrifices in order to allow your wives to stay at home. And of course, the wife has to be willing to make the sacrifices of not having the material things that would be possible with a double income.

I go on with the letter. “As I shared with him my gratitude for the intangibles of fulfillment as a woman and contentment as a wife, I could see that he was blessed. He was happy with our family style, but yes, he did regret that he couldn’t provide for all the things we needed. Telling him as I did, and anchoring it in the thinking I did as I listened to your programs, gave him a broader view of the true provisions he had made for us. Your program blessed me and my husband.” I do thank you.

She goes on to say that she had home schooled for six years. She was glad about my open-mindedness on that subject. She says, “For all your labors to produce this program, know that this woman is deeply appreciative.”

In Romans 5:3-5 we read, “Let us be full of joy now. Let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance; and endurance, fortitude, develops maturity of character; that is, approved faith and tried integrity. And character of this sort produces the habit of joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation. Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

Thank God even in the midst of your troubles. Remember who it is who writes this way. It’s Paul the Apostle, who had been through a good many trials and tribulations that most of us know nothing about. Things like floggings and shipwrecks and imprisonments. But he says, “We can be full of joy here and now. We can rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance.”

Some of you are experiencing difficult pressures today. Hardships. Can you be grateful for those? Not because of the hardship in itself, but because God’s promises that they can produce patient and unswerving endurance. But they’re not going to produce that patience and endurance unless you accept them. So gratitude springs from acceptance of the gifts and the conditions and the circumstances that God gives.

Are you grateful for the place that you live? Are you grateful for the job that God has given you to do? How many of you have thought today of thanking God for the work that He has given you to do? Maybe you’re ambitious for another job, a different kind of a job, or a promotion. Maybe you’re ambitious to get a job and you haven’t gotten one yet. Can you accept the fact that today this is the will of God? Wherever you are, whatever you have or don’t have, this is the will of God for you today.

How do I know that? I don’t know you. I don’t know your circumstances. But I do know what the Word says. “Everything that happens fits into a pattern for good, to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” His purpose in you and me is to make us holy, to shape us into the likeness of His Son, Jesus Christ. It is this particular set of circumstances in which you live, the particular events of today, that give you the opportunity to say, “Thank You, Lord. I know that You’re at work in this and I know that Your purpose for me is thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give me a future and a hope.”

-Elisabeth Elliot