students working together

It occurs to me that New Year’s Resolutions are our way of building positive momentum as we move into a New Year. I have always liked the idea of momentum. The idea that, through positive thoughts and experiences, we set ourselves onto a path towards a positive future for ourselves. The idea that good things beget good things is a truly optimistic concept, and one that provides hope for the future.

While I appreciate that to scientists momentum is more of a scientific concept that incorporates velocity and mass, and to Sportscasters, it highlights a trend for a particular team or athlete based upon past performance. For me, it is just a feeling. A “positive vibe” that manifests as optimism in the short term, and the potential for  success in the longer term. If we accept the premise that this unscientific version of momentum is real, then our goal as educators should be to endeavor to create it in the lives of our students and in our schools. For schools and education are nothing if not optimistic. We exist on the foundation of development, improvement, and growth — that through our efforts our students will learn, mature, improve, and find success. What could be more optimistic than that?

So the challenge for those of us who work in schools is to create individual and collective momentum on our campuses – to create feelings of optimism and hope among our students and communities. I think we would all agree that if we can generate some positive momentum in our students that they would undoubtedly achieve more. If you think you can, if you feel confident, don’t you think your chances of success improve? So how do we do this?

I believe there are two types of teachers and coaches out there. Those who celebrate the successes, and those who identify the failures. Again, accepting the notion of momentum, which type creates positive momentum and which doesn’t. As a teacher, if I commit to identifying those things that my students do well, and limiting the times I point out mistakes, won’t my students feel better about themselves, won’t that then create the momentum, and the success, we search for? Little mistakes are easy to identify, but it is the little successes, when highlighted, that carry the most value for our students..  

After a year in which we as a society have been obsessed with that which is contagious, wouldn’t it be great to go into the year sharing something positive? Wouldn’t it be great if we could create more positive momentum on our campus? If so, I hope it is contagious.

Balancing the Books is a blog written by Associate Head of School Steve Bristol. In this blog, he'll share his insights into the independent school world and the admission process.

Mr. Bristol joined The Hun School community in 2010, after working as a consultant for Independent Schools for several years. Before that, he served as an English teacher, coach, dorm head, and administrator. A boarding school graduate himself, Mr. Bristol attended Westminster School in Simsbury, CT. He holds a B.A. from Hamilton College and a M.S.Ed in School Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania.