Attitude is Everything

So this week I want to talk about attitude and perspective….and in particular, the attitude and perspective that we all bring to work everyday, which greatly impacts the climate and culture of our school. In my opinion, attitude is everything. Perspective, or how we frame or re-frame our individual experiences, is something that we are all in control of, and something that (when put together as a collective whole) very much makes or breaks the ethos of our environment. The way we respond to any given situation, or any made decision is inevitably a choice that we all make, and that choice shapes not only who we are as people/educators, but who we are as a faculty. When thinking about attitude, I keep coming back to a great quote by Maya Angelou, which states, “if you don’t like something, change it…….if you can’t change it, change your attitude”.

I was reading a wonderful article the other day by Sam Glenn, who goes pretty deep into how profoundly important attitude is in/for our lives. I have to say that I share his view that attitude and perspective encompass all that we are as human beings…….. from the way we treat others, to the way in which we see the world, and to the way that other people perceive us as friends, colleagues, partners, and educators. Here’s a quick breakdown of how he sees attitude impacting and affecting our lives………

Attitude is how we treat others
Attitude is the way we approach life
Attitude is contagious
Attitude is how we respond to challenges
Attitude affects our health
Attitude affects our relationships
Attitude is our personal trademark
Attitude determines if we fly or fall
Attitude creates experiences for you and others

Another big piece to this as I see it, has to do with the opportunity that we have as a faculty to create something truly special for our students (and for each other). I’m not talking about over the top optimism, or an idyllic, rose colored glasses approach to life and/or where we are currently as a school. I’m talking about a simple shift, or re-framing, of how we collectively see our current situation here at SCIS. I’m talking about the way in which you perceive, talk about, and internalize where we are and where we’re going. It’s easy in my mind to focus on the negative, and to give this negativity life and strength through gossip, water cooler discussions, and subversive/divisive comments throughout the work day. All schools on this planet have issues and areas of need that call out for attention, and we’re no different. School climate and school culture is shaped by these daily interactions, and once again it comes down to choice…..or attitude. The courageous choice in my mind, and the challenge that I’m putting out to all of you, as we look to finishing this year strong, is to take a look at what kind of attitude you’re bringing to school everyday.  Is it an attitude that inspires students and colleagues? Does it focus on the vision that we have as an Upper/Lower School? Does it speak to the person and educator that you truly want to be, and how you want to be perceived? Looking back at Glenn’s article, the most impactful statement that he makes in my mind revolves around how that attitude is contagious. A school’s particular ethos can be soul sucking or it can be soul inspiring. It can make you want to sprint to work everyday or it can make you drag your feet. Well, looking at the opportunity that we have together as a community in the upcoming years, my pace is picking up, and I’m inviting you all to tag along.

Whether you’re a departing teacher (a mentor of Andrew Powell’s, Jean Vahey, says that the highest quality educators always leave a school the same way that they begin another), or an incoming newbie, you’re attitude is everything…….make sure it’s the right one for what we are trying to accomplish. Read the attached poem please, which speaks wonderfully about the power of attitude and perception, and take some ownership of how you’re attitude is impacting your life and the lives of others. Have a fantastic week everyone and remember to be great for your students and good to each other.

Quotes of the Week……..
Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you, but by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you, but by the way your mind looks at what happens. – Khalil Gibran

In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity. – Albert Einstein


Attachment #1 – The Greatest (Don Schlitz) The Greatest ­ By Don Schlitz

TED Talk on Perspective and Perception- Rory Sutherland
http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/rory_sutherland_perspective_is_everything.html

About Daniel Kerr

Dan Kerr is now Lower School Director at the American School of Paris. He previously served as Intermediate Division Principal at Academia Cotopaxi American International School in Quito, Ecuador, and prior to that was the Middle School Principal at SCIS in Shanghai, China. Dan has also worked at JIS in Jakarta, Indonesia and he began his International career in Abu Dhabi. Dan is thrilled to be joining the ASP family and will be accompanied by his wife, Jocelyn, who will be working as a counselor, and his two children, Max and Gabby. 
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