The Power of Celebration

by Stephanie, December 16, 2019
Have you ever just had one of those days? You know, the kind of day where things just never seem to go right the dominoes just keep falling? I hear you. Recently, I had one of those days. I was preparing for a day of tutoring in our after-school reading club with my graduate students and everything that could go wrong, did. The double parking, the change of seminar rooms, the absence of students, the broken chair, the students running out of the room, the technical difficulties of the projector and on and on and on. As we came together for seminar, we filed in the room looking exhausted. Or, at least I did.

As we started class, I knew I had to turn the climate around. I handed each student a small sticky note and asked them to write a celebration from the night onto it. This celebration could have been anything: A celebration of themselves, their teaching or their interactions with their students. A celebration of their student’s engagement, behavior or literacy skills. A celebration of anything…. anything! I gave them a minute of reflection and then asked them to share. Actually, I begged them to share, jokingly saying that I NEEDED these celebrations. They obliged and one by one, shared the things that went well that night. For me, there was a tangible shift in my attitude and out-look. Even though we were literally on Plan G for the night, these small celebrations reminded me of why we do what we do: to celebrate teaching and learning. I felt better, had a renewed sense of energy and was thankful for those that shared their celebrations with me.

There is power in the celebration. Celebrating the good, even if we have to search to find it, helps shift our focus from one of deficits to one of positivity. It shifts our focus from what is going wrong, to what is going well and can reverse the domino effect that seems to happen all too often. By intervening in our own thinking, we can change the trajectory of what happens. The power of the celebration. So how can you make the power of the celebration work for you? Here are three ideas to try tomorrow:

  • Stop and celebrate. When things seem to be going wrong, stop. Take a deep breath and change your thinking. Even if more things went wrong than right, find those small glimmers of goodness and name them.
  • Celebrate teachers and students. Ah, this one is a game-changer. The teachers and students who demonstrate the most unloveable behaviors are often the ones who need us the most. Write their names down on a sticky note and add words or phrases to describe the positive qualities you see. Focus on building those rather than giving attention to the others. 
  • Start a gratitude journal and have your teachers join in. Ask teachers to share celebrations as a professional learning routine to cultivate a community of positive thinkers.  

While it can be hard, a shift in mindset can make all the difference in the world. If you think it will go wrong, then it will. If you think you can find good in a situation, then you will. Cultivate the frame of mind that fuels your work and reminds you of why you joined this profession in the first place.


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