I recently celebrated a milestone event: my 40th birthday. While I typically enjoy birthdays and celebrate each passing year, this one was different. The jokes about getting older, the joshing from my children, the page-turning age for health screenings all seemed to come together in a rush. It didn’t help that the I seemed to find blogs and articles everywhere about taking care of yourself in your 40’s. As I stared at my new-40 self in the mirror, I searched for the tell-tale signs of aging that were sure to appear soon. I looked for gray hairs. I found them. I looked for crinkly eyes. I found them. I looked for tired, dry skin. Found that too. As I stared at myself, shocked that these signs of aging had seemingly arrived overnight, I came to a startling conclusion: I found what I was looking for.
As I continued to take a hard look in the mirror, I realized that I was finding, no, forcing myself to find, what I was looking for and that skewed my entire impression of myself. I was looking through a lens of trepidation and negativity and so I found trepidation and negativity. Had I looked through a different lens, I may have found a face that smiled so much, beautiful crinkles appeared. I may have found hard-working skin that has kept me safe and healthy for 40 years. I may have even realized that those budding grey streaks were actual badges of honor, marking the years of a good life with my husband and children. It was a shocking conclusion to realize that I had complete control over what I saw in myself, and in life, and of course, I instantly made connections to teaching and learning.
We find what we are looking for. If we look for students to struggle, we will find students who struggle. If we look for behavior difficulties, we find those too. If we look for the negatives in our curriculum, we will find the negatives….and miss opportunities to change what we can. Yet, if we look for the good, we find the good. We will find lost minutes to add more reading to our schedule. We will find moments to connect with students and bring joy to the day. Now, that is not to say that just because we look for things, we will find them and all will be well with the world. Not at all. But it is to say that the lens through which we see our colleagues, students, families and communities matter and influence our actions as educators, whether we know it or not. So, today, I am going to make a conscious effort to look for good and let everything else go. To shift my mindset, control what I can and bring joy to the days ahead for myself and the teachers and students I have the privilege of working with. What will you find today?