Each morning during our team’s first circle we perform a uniform check. This includes the basic wearables of the uniform but also intangible things like a “soul generated by love” and a “positive can-do-attitude.” This activity causes me to think about City Year culture... How can an attitude be a uniform piece? I often found myself questioning the values of City Year. For instance, why does my attitude have to be positive? Aren’t students going to notice if I’m not being genuine? If I’m not positive, will I be dismissed? Is that even possible? What does my attitude have to do with service? How is having a positive attitude going to make a difference?
This is what I learned from my first year of service and as a Team Leader over this past year:
In most cases, faking it, does in fact lead to making it.
Final circle is the best time of the day.
Our students have a sixth sense and just know. They call bluffs all the time.
More opportunities become open to you when you just embrace moments as they come rather than stew in the “how comes” and “what ifs.”
Finally, it’s all love in the end!
Positivity is a skill, defined as the practice of being in a certain state. I want to put heavy emphasis on the word practice. If homework, for students, is practice until the exam, then the morning readiness check was my daily homework. As the saying goes, ‘practice makes perfect’. I had to physically and mentally prepare myself to be in a state which required that I focus on the positives for our students; because in the end their success was my success.
In the beginning, there were definite challenges to maintaining a positive attitude. I had to remind myself that today is a new day and focus on the highs of the day, so the negatives wouldn’t impact my next day. It is very easy to let the losses take over, but to choose to focus on the successes is where practice of a positive-can-do-attitude takes place. By choosing to let the wins, no matter how small, shine through I was able to have a more joy-filled service day.
People usually say, ‘Oh don’t sweat the details.” However, in service, it’s those small details that matter the most. For instance, Robin*, had trouble attending all seven classes in her schedule. We set small, achievable goals until she was attending all seven classes every day of the week. By celebrating the small wins, I was able to build towards a larger goal, which only helped my student succeed. The smaller details are always overlooked, but they make the biggest impact.
Positivity is spreading warmth and hope. Although, these are not small things that can be accomplished instantly, they can be built up to. One’s attitude does matter.
*Student’s name has been changed to protect student's privacy.
Article written by Halina Sims, Team Leader on the South Division High School Team