The Power of Positive

Metal art

As another testing season arrives with all the frustrations and anxiety that accompanies it, I have been reflecting on the power of positive in classrooms. I was reminded of this by several recent events.

I went to garage sales this past weekend to hunt for frames. They are for a new mixed media art piece I’ve been commissioned to create for someone’s great room. The couple enjoys abstract, non-representational art and this piece will be a perfect compliment to the art over their fireplace.

art over fireplace

What does this have to do with the power of positive? I experienced two very different reactions to my pursuit of a variety of frames. The first garage sale I went to was being held by a couple approaching retirement age and they were downsizing to a different home. When I found a frame that might work I offered half price for it. (Yes, I am one of those people who bargain with a seller.)

She said that it had really pretty matting for pictures and she wanted full price. I explained that the mixed media art piece I was creating would only use the frames. Her immediate response was, “How fascinating! Please tell me more about it.” I did. I explained that a collage of frames would be painted the colors from the vintage, mid-century art work across the room from the frames. She said, “I’m a piano teacher and I think that this is one of the most creative ideas I’ve ever heard for frames. How unique! Do you have any pictures of your art? Do you sell it? Do you have a card?”

I left this driveway feeling so pumped about finding enough frames to begin arranging the collage via graph paper (another marvelous reason to learn ratio and proportion) and then arranging the real frames inside my garage. I left and headed to the next garage sale.

The next two didn’t have any frames, but the third one did. They were selling over 20 pictures for under $5 each. I hit the jackpot! Well, I did in finding frames, but I also found a completely opposite response from the seller. As I made my offer she indicated that several of the pictures had layers of matting. I said I only wanted the frames for an art piece I was creating for someone. She turned, rolled her eyes and said, “I don’t care what you do with the frames, do you want them or not?”

As I drove away I reflected on the extreme difference from the two people who sold me frames. The piano teacher understood the power of positive. Her curiosity and interest in my work made me want to go back and do more. The negative didn’t make me want to do anything but find another garage sale and maybe another person who was positive.

The attitude of the teacher in the classroom has incredible power over the attitude of his or her students. They make or break the emotional connection and the belief that students have in their ability. It is my hope that teachers use this power to build and not break their students!

Oh, about the frames at that last garage sale…of course I bought them! I got the whole lot for $20 and I’ll be thinking about the piano teacher as I create my piece…