Elementary School

Moments that Push You to be More: Palm Beach Maritime

By Sarah Speegle

In life, there are moments that push you to be more, to become the best human that you could possibly hope to be. The Positivity Project is that moment for my students. Each morning before we dive into numbers and words, we take time to grow as individuals with a focus on the world around us. 

At the start of school, we were twenty-four people who were focused solely on our own individual needs and wants as we interacted daily. After a little over three months together, using our Positivity Project lessons daily for fifteen minutes, we have grown into a united group. 

In my classroom, we focus on a Hero’s Journey, most of the novels we read follow the archetype. I have found it so much more effective to use The Positivity Program’s focused character strength each week while reading our novels. We identify the actions of the characters and see that often we make choices not based on our wants, but on the needs of others. This strategy has helped to link the often abstract concept in a more concrete manner. For example: In “Number the Stars” we learned about a young girl who accepted the role of hero unwillingly but with love. “The Phantom Tollbooth” showed us an unlikely hero who started out as a bored young boy who learns the power of words. Now, we are reading “The House of Always” about a young hero who fights greed to save others. Inside of each of these stories, we search for moments that show our character strength of the week. The students get so excited when they are the ones who find the evidence!

An excellent example of the mentality change from the program can be seen during our outside recess time. At the very beginning of the year, the children would play in small groups of two to three students. They rarely conversed outside of their small groups and tended to sit away from one another. Now, two to three large groups of students play games together during that time. The students organize themselves into teams and play the game with minimum arguments. It is amazing to see students, many of whom have a very hard time socially, listen and follow the rules of the game while having fun interacting with one another. 

Just last week, one of my young men had a difficult day in school. His frustration became apparent when he missed the ball during a game. He then broke down in anger, walked to the side of the field, and sat down. Instead of continuing to play, the other students stopped their game and came over and sat around him in a circle. The students joked with him until he was feeling better and smiling, then they went on and continued their game. I listened in awe to them, telling him that “You tried your hardest” and “It is good to fail sometimes because then we grow.” What an amazing moment that shows how effective this program is.

As a teacher, this is the change that you hope to see occur each year in your students. You want them to have the moment where they switch from an egocentric focus to a more external focus. Without The Positivity Project, I do not think that the students would grow this rapidly as individuals and become the leaders that they were meant to be. 

Sarah Speegle

Sarah is a 5th grade teacher, who has been teaching for 7 years now.  She looks forward to many more years to come.