I often work with students who are required by their county welfare worker to attend my class. Many have had multiple negative classroom, as well as life, experiences (and they brood about the negative!). I ask that everyone take a minute to silently identify one positive thing about themselves or one thing they are thankful for.

For students who cannot think of anything positive, I give examples: I got my kids out the door today without any hassles, I’m having a good hair day, I met the deadline on a project, I successfully made it to class today. Once everyone has one positive thought about themselves, I ask that everyone in the room shake hands with every other person in the room. While doing so they are to concentrate on their positive thought and try to project this positive thought to everyone they shake with, all without saying a word.

The exercise usually changes frowns to laughs, with everyone responding positively towards one another. The lesson of course is that people respond to us positively when we project a positive attitude.

–Sandy Beckwith, Student Services, Lassen College, CA

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