3 Tools to Sustain a Positive Start to the New Term

Saturday, 30th August, 2014

bigstock--d-man-and-back-to-school-te-47726446Most teachers I speak to at this time of year are full of enthusiasm, renewed energy, hope, ideas and positivity.

I was the same when I taught. Sometimes it was tinged with nerves and apprehension – but that just kept me on my toes. It created good adrenalin!

So how long do you usually keep up this positive start?

Perhaps it depends on things that you come across as the term unfolds, such as:

  • if your role is new – and the clarity & resources you have to support this
  • the particular cohort(s) of students you’re teaching – and your experiences with them
  • the staff team you’re leading – their strengths / abilities / team relationships
  • the time you can devote to the job – often affected by external influences over which you have no control
  • how you’re generally able to stay motivated – with whatever you’re working on / aiming for

Ultimately it’s about mindset – your mindset … and how you manage the situations that present themselves.

Here are 3 tools to help sustain a positive mindset: 

1. A strong dose of resilience

3 things that help you build resilience include – good focus, optimism and flexibility. You can read more about these in a separate blog here.

2. Negative-busting phrases

Sometimes it’s easy (especially when you’re tired) to lapse into unhelpful negative thoughts, e.g.

 I’m no good at handling that parent

I’ll never be able to lead a staff meeting as confidently as (Joe)

I’m not saying you can’t have negative thoughts. Sometimes they’re a useful ‘word of caution’ that can help you avoid unwanted / dangerous situations.

This is about recognising them when they appear, and then changing them into something more helpful, e.g.

I’m doing the best I can with the resources I have right now. (Or – What can I do to handle that parent interaction more productively?)

I’m going to develop my confidence in presenting at staff meetings this year until I feel confident in my own abilities. I’ll learn from feedback, and see this as positive professional development.

3. A well thought-out plan

A well thought-out personal plan will help keep you motivated when the term’s fully under way or nearing its end. In the words of Abraham Lincoln:

A goal properly set is half-way reached

Use your planning & reflection skills to create a personal plan that will keep you energised. Here are some questions to help you create a plan that works for you.

Creating the goal or aim

  • What is it that is creating your current feeling of positivity? (A chance to start afresh? Brimming with new ideas you want to try?)
  • What do you really enjoy about your job?
  • What do you want to achieve in your job/role this year?

Identifying obstacles & resources

  • What could get in the way of your goal for this year?
  • What are all the different ways you could overcome these obstacles?
  • Which personal skills and resources do you already have that will help you achieve your goal?
  • What other support/resources do you need?
  • Which colleagues/contacts could you call upon to help, if necessary?
  • What have you seen others do that you could try?

Identifying actions & timescales

  • From your responses above, which option(s) feel best?
  • What else could you do?
  • Which will you use/put into practice?
  • Bearing in mind what you want to achieve by the end of the year, what will you need to achieve by the end of each term/half-term to stay on target & keep motivated?
  • What will achieving each stage look, feel and sound like?
  • So what are you going to do right now to ensure you get off to a positive start?!

As an alternative to creating an action plan for the year, you could try the approach described in this post: What’s your personal vision for 2014-15?

Final thought … rate your current positive state on a scale of 1-10, where 10 is your most positive. Do this periodically over the term to check your positivity levels. If below 7, reflect on the cause and consider how a change of mindset could help change this score!

So which other tools could (or do) you use to maintain a positive start?


debbie019 fThank you for taking time to read this blog.

I’m Debbie Inglis, a performance coach, mentor and trainer, working with Heads, Principals, School leaders and their teams to maximise leadership performance, create more effective, confident, and motivated teams … in a way that brings out the best in you.

If you’re interested in my services, please get in touch, and you can read more here.