The Reflection Pool

No More War Stories

Do you ever notice our fascination with bad news, crazy tweets or others’ misfortunes? The web is full of these kinds of stories, whether about celebrities or everyday people. It’s everywhere, and I see it in education too.

We love to tell about how much marking or how many emails we have. Or about that student whose behaviour causes us grief. Or about how the public doesn’t appreciate the work we do. Does that elevate the profession?

I believe that we need to battle against the tendency towards “war stories.”  Negativity attracts negativity. Sharing bad news just ends up making me feel worse, not better. A few years ago, I made a commitment to myself to stop telling these anecdotes. I’ve succeeded, sort of, so I keep working at it. What I try to share is good news.


I’ve read many tweets about the importance of telling our positive stories of success and celebration, for if we don’t, who will? We need to be the ones who show the fantastic work teachers, educational assistants, caretakers, office staff, early childhood educators, principals and vice principals do. Every day, we can make a difference in someone’s life, whether we understand our impact or not. If we can see the light all around in classrooms and in schools, then when someone asks, “How’s work?” we can respond with amazing accounts of what we do day to day. We can describe the parent who came in to tell us how happy they are with their daughter’s progress. We can tell about the talent show where that quiet kid got up the courage to try out. Or we can share how one student with autism learned a new word.  These stories of joy exist in all of our schools.

Can you imagine?


(With thanks to Chris Crouch, #aprilblogaday founder and blogging inspiration.)

5 thoughts on “No More War Stories

  1. I love this post! It reminds me of my “goal to be positive” that I had last year. I continue to work on this too. I’m not perfect, but I keep on trying. Hearing “good news stories” makes me happy. I really do believe that teaching is the BEST profession, and it’s great to be able to celebrate the successes that we all have with kids. I wonder how the news would change if all of us only shared these “good news” stories. Thanks for the great reminder!


  2. Hi Sue,

    It is very interesting that you should write about this particular topic. It has been heavy on my mind this week. Some members of my staff seems especially prone to this negativity. This past week I found myself silently counting how many seconds after I sat down for lunch until the horror stories began. If it isn’t car accidents, then it’s terrible parenting. Most often it’s behaviour of specific children. It becomes a sort of “one up man ship-ish”. Occasionally it’s even rolling eyes about a particular staff member which I think is the worst. I like my staff members but I’m not sure if they realize how negative they are when they are together.

    I try to share funny stories or good news when it’s appropriate but it isn’t enough. Yesterday I found myself pondering what I could do. I wonder if a question on our whiteboard such as, “What is your ratio of positive/negative statements or stories in a day?” would help or cause more grief?

    Some staff members don’t eat in the lunch room for this reason. I’m curious, in your role as a principal, what would you do if you knew this was happening in the lunch room at your school?

    1. Thank you for commenting. Your question really speaks to school culture and what is accepted and permitted by staff in the staff room and other areas. Does the principal ever go in the staff room? Would a conversation be possible?

      1. Thank you Sue,

        I had a wonderful conversation with the principal today and we brainstormed some ideas, including adding school culture to our school success plan.

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