It’s not that my young friend, Dan Mason, coined this phrase himself. I’m sure he’s heard it from someone, possibly a Zig Ziglar quote, like many of us have, but…and I mean a BIG BUT, when he said it, it grabbed our attention. When I say “our” I mean, my students and myself. Let me back up and tell you the story….
A couple of weeks ago, I texted my Sparklett’s water guy, I like to call him “Dan the Water Man” and asked him if he would come and speak to my class. See, he’s been delivering water to me for over a year and when my students see him, all they see is coolness. I asked him if he’d come and speak, maybe give a treat, and help be part of the “All STAAR Treatment” to help pump up my students for their first round of state testing. He was quick to commit and very enthusiastic! When I told my students he was coming, they were just as excited.
When Dan came, I could tell he was nervous and probably hadn’t spoken to many classes of fifth graders. He gave them some goodies and then he delivered a quick but meaningful message. He shared with them that everyday he wakes up with a positive attitude. He talked about how there were many people in his life growing up who didn’t think he’d do much with his life, called him out because he was short, and so on, but none of that mattered to him. He always knew that he was going to do something with his life. He shared that the route he is taking may not look like what others consider the path of success i.e. he didn’t get his degree, first, but that he is working hard, proud of his work, and he’s actually about to start up his own company with the knowledge he’s learned along the way. When he was telling us his story, we were all ears. This group of fifth graders were NOT talking over him! And it didn’t hurt that he also told them to listen to me, the teacher that will help them get to where they’re going! When he finished, he promised to come back and check in on them and their progress.
There’s so much about this that I love. I love how Dan is a walking illustration of his words. He is a positive, young, and successful man. He may not be an experienced speaker, yet, but when I was listening to him, I could see that he definitely will go on to do greater things, all while giving back to his community, too. I don’t know if my students saw all of this, but I do know they felt his sincerity. His positive attitude was contagious. At the end of the day, one of my student’s asked, “Is it weird that I’m actually excited about tomorrow?!” And I asked if there were others who felt like her, and half the class raised their hands. Excited for state testing?! Wow! And when they came in this morning, I can tell you, that many of them were excited.
So thank you, Dan the Water Man, even though you are moving on to greater things and won’t be my “water guy” for much longer. You have made an impression on all of us, and I look forward to seeing how you will give of yourself to our community as you climb the ladder of success. I believe that you will see your dreams to fruition, and I predict you will go even further in life than you dream of now!
Teachers, parents, and anyone who is reading this, when we partner with people in our community who sincerely care about our students, it’s a perfect recipe for social emotional learning, don’t you think? Dan told his story about turning negative feedback around with the confidence he’s always had in himself. We need more of this! This whole event taught me that I need to be doing more of this! Every time I’ve asked someone to come and speak to my kids, it’s been a wonderful experience, so why am I not making more time for it? Why am I not inviting more people? I have decided that this is something I will make a priority as a real way of showing our kids the growth mindset and the reality of success through perseverance.
So tomorrow is another exhausting day of state testing, but I am going to be like Dan, and wake up with a positive attitude! Won’t you join me?