Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Change Your Story

I read an article the other day that discussed how a parent used a growth mindset with her children.  When something wasn't going right, or negativity seemed to be overpowering her child, she'd tell him, "change your story."  Instead of noticing all the horrible problems or failures, he should tell his own story in a different way, one in which those negatives were positives.

My own sons are already sick of hearing this phrase after the inspiration this article gave me, but I've also started saying this to myself in my classroom and in my life.

After 16 years of teaching, you'd think I'd have it right.  But, with the implementation of Common Core Standards and the push for a curriculum rewrite from my district, I feel like I'm in my first year of teaching all over again.  Every unit of study this year has been brand new, an experiment I collect evidence from to improve next year.  It's a slow, tiring process.  One in which I often feel like a failure.  

In our narrative unit, when it was finally time to get our drafts and brainstorms into serious realistic fiction stories, it was like my students hadn't learned a thing!  Where were their developed characters? Where were the conflicts that were so well planned out?  It was like the last 5 weeks of lessons had never happened!  I was telling myself a negative story, for sure.

So, I decided to change my story.  If I really took a look at their writing, and held it up against their original narratives they'd written before the unit started, I could see them in a much more positive light.  Originally, their narratives had been simple bed-to-bed events.  Ones without much meaning or depth.  "A Day at the Beach."  "When My Grandma Came to Visit This Summer."  These were what they considered narratives.  But when I changed my story about their current writing, I saw some pretty amazing words on those papers!  Just that there WAS a conflict jumped out.  That characters had dialogue, or that they had a personality and a face was light years ahead of what they originally wrote.

This should apply to all aspects of our lives.  Seeing our positive stories can have profound impacts on the happiness we feel every moment of our days.  It's these kind of beliefs about how our lives play (and have played) out that create opportunities or close doors.  We should always work to fill that negative space with positively everything (to quote the great Edie Brickell) -- tell a story of "yes" rather than "no."

Today, as I look outside and see another 6 inches of snow on the ground I muster all the willpower I can to see positive!  But when you find it, it sticks with you.  It changes your view.  It changes the views of others around you.  Imagine starting your day in a place where everyone decided to tell their stories with optimism and gratitude.  Such a small change can indeed shift the world.


  1. I have been thinking about this as well lately! So true! and I love the visual of the seeds to go along with this post.

  2. Life is a matter of perspective, isn't it? Half full or half empty does so much to color our worlds and therefore those around us. Thanks for sharing your positiveness!