Clever Ways To Stay Positive As A Special Educator

In the broken world we live in, it can be very challenging to remain positive as an educator. As a special education teacher, we are given the most needy students. That makes it especially difficult to create a positive classroom. BUT, it is possible! Here are some tips for staying positive to create a better environment for us and the students.

In the broken world we live in, it can be very challenging to remain positive as an educator. As a special education teacher, we are given the most needy students. That makes it especially difficult to create a positive classroom. BUT, it is possible! Here are some tips for staying positive to create a better environment for us and the students.


I recently read a blog post about different ways to be more positive. In the post the author, Pastor Roscoe Lilly, compares sugar and complaining. He says, "Just like most of our weight challenges can be traced back to sugar, most of our negativity can be traced back to complaining." This makes so much sense to me!! Just like eating sweets makes you want more sweets, complaining makes it more likely you will keep complaining. I highly recommend reading the post. It is filled with good information. Click HERE to read the post.

So, how do we apply this to our special education classrooms? In the blog post, Pastor Roscoe poses a challenge to us to only allow ourselves to complain 1 time a day. Do you think you can do it? Imagine how much more you will enjoy your job (and life) if you are able to let go of the small irritants while purposely focusing on the positive. Think about the most positive person you know... does that person complain a lot? Does s/he look through a positive lens or a negative one?

How do you feel when you are around your positive friend? I would be willing to bet that you feel pretty good when you are together. How do you think your students and paras would feel around your positive friend? Everyone wins when people are more positive. Once you get your complaining down, challenge your students to try it as well. Imagine the impact on the classroom, their homes, their community.

You may be thinking, "Yes, but..." Don't let the "buts" side track you!! There are things you can do to make it easier to remain positive. Let's look at some examples.

What about the cranky staff member that is always negative? There is at least one of these people in every school. Whenever possible, try to limit how much time you spend interacting with that person. Let's call her Nell. If Nell typically comes to your classroom to do her complaining, you have a couple options. You could close the door to deter her from coming inside, work somewhere else during the times she usually comes in or be prepared to leave your room with her. For example, you could tell her she can walk with you to the copier room, to the office, to your mailbox, etc. Not having her in your room will help shorten the time you are with her. It also makes her less free to gossip or talk about others in the building.

What about the negative person that works IN my classroom? This one is more challenging. I highly recommend that you have some classroom policies in place to limit this during the school day. For example, one of our classroom policies is staff members are not allowed to discuss classroom problems, behavior issues, etc. while students are present.

I have also found it helpful to ask follow up questions that prompt staff to think differently. For example, if a para said to me that her student is acting out during math centers because he hates to practice subtraction, I would ask her to list a math skill or task that the student does well to get her thinking about the student in a positive way. Then, my suggestion would be to start with the math skill the student can do first before moving on to the harder skill. I would also recommend (and model) what praise or positive reinforcement might look like. There is a big difference between, "Glad you got through math centers today." and "You did a great job getting all of your math done. I really liked the way that you kept calm when we did subtraction. Great job!" Which would make you feel more positive?!

What about the person who needs help ALL the time? I have found the best way to stop this is to turn it back on them. For example, when Nell comes to say she can't remember how to {fill in the blank}, I ask her what strategies/solutions she has already tried. If Nell admits that she hasn't tried anything other than come to you for help, she will look foolish. Gently suggest that she keeps working on it because you aren't able to help right now. After a few times, she will get sick of looking foolish or the things she is now trying before asking for help will actually work. As a side note, this works really well with students as well!

Want even more ideas to keep your classroom a positive place for you and students? Click the picture to read the blog post, Hacks For Keeping Classroom Staff Positive.




Don't forget to pin this blog post to reference when you need it! Just click the picture (below) to pin it.


In the broken world we live in, it can be very challenging to remain positive as an educator. As a special education teacher, we are given the most needy students. That makes it especially difficult to create a positive classroom. BUT, it is possible! Here are some tips for staying positive to create a better environment for us and the students.



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