By Debra Rutley CEO
“Be a blessing to somebody” Maya Angelou.
At Aspire we end each and every day with Blessings.
Most of what I do and encourage others to do is based on my reading and my reading of research. I first read about gratitude as a way to support positive mental health after suffering from a major mental breakdown. When I felt well enough to read I read the work of Martin Seligman and Positive psychology and I tried to make their suggestions habits. Research from positive psychology has shown that practicing gratitude can improve your overall sense of well-being and specifically your optimism. After practicing gratitude on a personal level and feeling the benefits, I took the idea to work.
When you work in AP its challenging every day. I took the idea of Blessings to support my staff well-being, keep me from the edge and fill the air with optimism. We already met at the end of every day to discuss the day: the issues, the students, what we learnt, what we could do differently and to support each other. Often, we had cake! Blessings at the end of the day complemented the cake and was an attempt to end the day positively, to feel good about what we had achieved and the differences and change we had seen.
At the end of every day we count our blessings, at least 3.
Children are our Blessings at Aspire. We collectively share which children are our blessings and why. This means it’s a collective celebration of others, collective optimism and collective hope. It brings us together as a community of staff to share the small steps of change that happens so gradually at Aspire you could miss it if you weren’t paying attention. It helps staff pay attention to the small but significant steps to self-improvement like smiling at a teacher or putting pen to paper for the first time. Our blessings, celebrations and thanks aren’t for special occasions they are for the ordinary and the daily lifting of us all.
This works. It works really well when the day has been tough and we wonder why we bother and it works in a strange way when we have discussed troubling behaviours from a student who is then also a member of staffs’ Blessing. Blessings at the end of the day ever so slightly shifts perspective, helps us see the big picture and alters how we think and feel before going home.
Blessings is now just what we do at Aspire. It’s a habit that’s well established. We never have a shortage of blessings!
Imagine… if you were the parent of an excluded child who previously had only ever had contact with a school when they called to complain. You get a call from your school to say your child was our Blessing today. Priceless!