How toxic positivity hurts teachers and hurts schools

Several years ago, while teaching her first year at a new school, Rachel cried a lot. Under the tutelage of a constantly enthusiastic administrator, Rachel, an educator and librarian in New Jersey, was pressured to remain constantly happy. In addition to masking her feelings, she learned to swallow her opinions.

Colleagues sympathetically nodded and suggested she go along. This advice put her to work and put her through a difficult year. But she did nothing to calm him down.

“I don’t say to my colleagues, ‘I deal with anxiety and depression,'” says Rachel, who was asked to mention her first name to discuss her mental health experiences explicitly. “I don’t want to get up very early in the morning, and how often I wake up scared of you and can’t think,‘ Should I call today? I don’t feel mentally or emotionally ready to go to work right now.

Later, Rachel finds out from her administrator the type of forced pleasure she is experiencing: toxic positivity. In a sense, this is a kind of denial philosophy, where nothing really goes wrong, and where the power of positive thinking can be used to disprove any criticism or concern, no matter how legitimate it may be. And if you listen To social media, Where teachers usually express themselves openly and anonymously, Rachel is far from alone.

Not everything is fine

There is a specific TED discussion that teachers on social media sometimes reach out to describe the mindset of toxic positivity. Is a statue of the late Rita Pearson “Every child needs a championDiscussions from 2013, which are often played or referenced where teachers meet. In it, Pearson repeatedly emphasizes the value of building strong bonds with students, and at one point says that children do not learn from people they do not like.

Say untruths, teachers and unreal on Reddit and Twitter. Not every student and teacher will come together and not every middle or high school teacher will be able to make friends with each of their students. Yet, education is taken in this incomplete situation. But in speaking like Pearson, this fact is briefly acknowledged and set aside. There is only room for positivity and blame from teachers. They are never enough unless they are perfect.

There are so many definitions of toxic positivity floating around on the vast ocean of the internet, they are all of the same thing, really: too much happiness can be bad because it does not give place to negative emotions like sadness, anxiety or frustration. Like an irrational discrepancy, it is used to end a conversation, even if the other party speaks instead. Harvard psychologist Susan David once referred to it as the “tyranny of positivity.”

Earlier this year, a Podcast conversation David, along with sympathetic researcher Brian Brown, explained that when people around him refuse to focus on negative thoughts and feelings only on positive thoughts, they are “not living the world as they are” [they] That is the wish. “When other people tell us to focus only on positivity,” she added, “they’re really saying, ‘My comfort is more important than your reality.'”

Toxic positivity is clearly depressing, but it is harmful – even for those who sincerely believe in it. Research Is shownFor example, reducing emotions can cause stress, depression and anxiety, affecting mental and long-term physical health. In the 1990’s, psychologist James Paynebaker’s study linked repressed emotions to the body’s immune system and found that it was possible to release those emotions. Walk Your body’s immune system. An independent study is actually Connected Increased aggression such repression.

Yet schools, which exist to teach and care for children, are especially fertile ground for everything of this kind उत्तम great idea. Frequently, overzealousness is used not as a means to increase excitement through inspirational posters, but as a means of control and conformity.

Selena Carrion, a high school English teacher in the Bronx, New York, says she often hears some insidious phrases like “everything is for kids” and “it’s not really about us” used to address systemic education issues like equity gap, racism, poverty and bureaucracy.

“Toxic positivity is like being a mask to avoid talking about those overwhelming issues that can make people feel uncomfortable,” she says. “If we’re just happy enough at school, if we’re kind to our colleagues and the headmaster, if we’re just good teachers, it will compensate for all that. And in fact, it’s not strange. ”

Carrie adds that it is common for administrators to push this thinking on teachers. Ultimately, teachers may feel compelled to endure it. The worrying thing is that, as long as the problematic issues are kept quiet, it works. Teachers accept this mentality and arm themselves against colleagues, especially those with unpopular opinions, who rearrange things on their own terms.

She explains, “It’s important to be positive and reassuring and optimistic and happy.” “But not everything seems to be going well. In fact, this kind of silence is getting into big trouble. ”

But still, teachers learn to feel guilty for presenting any issues.

Disinfection and non-professional school email, which encourages positivity and self-care, is an effective vehicle for this type of message. There are preventive school strategies and staff training sessions, where speakers can teach a closed audience about the power of positive thinking. The result is that toxic positivity gets a kind of impression of legitimacy. This becomes systematic, which frustrates teachers and makes the problem even more difficult to deal with.

In some schools, it is even baked into the curriculum, meaning students also approach it, especially when it comes to socio-emotional learning, a term that refers to a set of related skills and behaviors that often include things like goal setting, emotional Regulation and building healthy relationships. In the past, Carian has seen toxic positivity in the chin-up style packed as part of character development courses for students. She says, “I don’t think students understand that this is happening. “But that’s basically the message they’re being given.”

Finding a healthy balance

Determining toxic positivity is not easy, but it is also not impossible. When administrators and other teachers put pressure on their colleagues, it can be a different experience due to a power imbalance. Rachel, a New Jersey teacher-librarian, admits that she “will have a hard time getting to the administration,” which made me feel really uncomfortable with what you said.

But Carian has a different solution. When teachers talk to other teachers one-on-one about toxic positivity, it can remove the stigma and guilt associated with criticism. It can also be galvanized in terms of staff training or school policies, to address employees collectively.

“It was a big game changer, because then everyone realized it wasn’t just me. This is a leadership problem, “explains Carion.

There is also the idea that the difficulties caused by the companion may provide an opportunity for change. Make no mistake, there was toxic positivity Has been raging for the last two years. But because of the many horrors and disasters that competed for attention, something interesting happened: more teachers began to talk about problems that could not be solved by hand alone. Self-care and mental health became mainstream conversations in virtually every workplace, and schools faced drowning. Morale among teachers. The result is that this may have led to more self-awareness किमान at least in good faith.

According to researcher Laura Sokal, as teachers became more comfortable (or accustomed) to sharing difficult or negative feelings related to peer stress, some who did not feel irritated or stressed like their peers began to self-censor their positivity. At the University of Winnipeg who have conducted numerous teacher surveys in Canada over the past 18 months.

“There were teachers who were toxic positive and didn’t have self-awareness,” Sokol tells her activists about the teachers she met. “And then there were the other teachers who were quiet because they understood that saying they were okay would be detrimental to the people they were talking to. He recognized, ‘Yes, we are in different boats and it is not useful for me to tell you this. But I can’t even say that I think so because it’s not true. ”

It can be problematic for a number of reasons, at least because suppressing any emotion, even out of compassion, is still harmful. But, Sokal believes that this establishes an erroneous duality between pathology – in the sense that we are living in an unprecedented period of challenges – and toxic positivity when it comes to alternative educators: healthy positivity. In other words, optimism.

Positivity is of course not like toxic positivity. It is possible to accept that problems exist and deserve time and attention while being personally enthusiastic about things. It can also be healthy. Some of the studies mentioned by Sokal Informed In that traumatic situation, a positive attitude can change whether a person develops post-traumatic stress disorder. Yet she also mentions Canadian psychiatrist Stan Kutcher who notes that developing immunity is only possible to cope with and experience negative emotions. Those emotions must be met in order to meet the challenges and adapt to the future.

What is left is a healthy balance. In her 2017 Ted Talk, Susan David, Harvard psychologist, took a second stand against toxic positivity, but also against toxic negativity and toxic stiffness. “If there’s one common feature of brooding, bottling, or false positives, it’s this: they’re all harsh responses,” she said.

Instead, she introduces a concept called “emotional agility” where we systematically label and process complex emotions. “When we label our emotions accurately, we are more able to know the exact cause of our emotions, and what scientists call ‘readiness ability’ in our brains is activated, allowing us to take concrete steps.”

Finding the perfect mix of realism and optimism is hard work, especially for teachers who are always good role models for aspiring martyrs or their students. But dealing directly with problems and negative emotions is the only way to solve the real problem. It may not be as infectious or as easy to bite as the viral positivity, but it has at least one distinct advantage: it works.

“Only when really strong teachers are able to find this balance, does change actually happen,” says Carion. “You’re actually addressing the root and you’re doing it in a way that makes people think things can change. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. ”

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