I have written about this before, but I am incredibly lucky to have a colleague in my department who is also a very close friend outside of work. It would take pages to list the ways she has helped me to grow professionally – both as we work together to plan our courses, and in the way we rely on each others’ advice to navigate the different situations that arise each day as a matter of course.
One thing that Molly started doing in the fall was taking time each day to focus on one positive thing that happened, then writing it down – to put in a jar labeled with the quote “every day may not be good, but there is something good thing in every day.”
Throughout the fall, we sometimes shared our “good things” from the day – and I found it to be not only a nice thing to do (it’s therapeutic to talk about your day with someone), but actually a way to keep me really focused on the positive: a reminder of how our small daily interactions can actually have meaningful consequences. On the hardest teaching days, sifting through to remember those good things can be a way to make sure the stress, the exhaustion, and the various tough situations we face as teachers don’t drown out the small moments that are gems.
So, I stole the idea (something I find myself doing frequently – it’s nice to be surrounded by creative, intelligent people!) and made it social and collaborative. The group blog one good thing is a shared space where we are just beginning to collect our teaching stories. Right now, there’s a small group of authors (a couple of my colleagues, a couple of math twitter friends, and a friend from college) who are challenging themselves to reflect on – and document – that one good thing. If you’d like to participate and post to the blog, just let me know. I think it’s going to be a worthwhile endeavor.