I think it is incredibly important to be positive about the work you do. If you work with children then it is vital. However the school ecosystem is a complex organism, easily affected by external inputs. As staff we have worries and dilemmas that play on our mind. Professionalism dictates that these be left at the gates. The majority of people I have worked with succeed at doing this.
However every so often along comes the Negativity Bandwagon. It generally starts off slowly trundling down the corridors to its first stop at Staffroom Station.
I do think it is important that people have somewhere to vent frustrations and breathe freely after dealing with one of the many challenges education throws at us. This is a term that came up during the training I was delivering last week, I liked the image to describe the huge impact an individual or small group can have on the collective.
It is here however that the most travelers climb aboard, you may even be tempted to jump on for the ride! You may have been happily minding your own business, but when you hear negative talk it actually increases the likelihood you will develop that view yourself. (Known as Cognitive Bias) this can be the route of least resistance particularly if you want to avoid conflict with your colleagues.
This may start off with something minor – The way assemblies are held, or the new initiative to change the displays monthly. Once rolling however the bandwagon gains momentum. It becomes easy to spread this to other areas of the school culture. One of my bugbears, and an area the bandwagon must be stopped from going is the children. Social scientists theorise that we pay more attention to negative views as they seem to carry more weight. If we praise a child for excellent work then state a concern that they have displayed a disruptive behaviour; according to negativity bias it is the second statement that will be seen as most important.
Once we get into the habit of discussing the children, particularly their behaviour in a negative way we seriously prejudice the way that child is perceived. This in turn can affect the interactions between staff and the child. I would go so far as to say it can lead to the labeling of the child, a label or reputation that can follow them throughout their education. This is unacceptable, this is if you think about it bullying. It is an area you must challenge whatever your job title. If you work in a school you work to support the children. All the children.
So we must do everything in our power to stop the bandwagon. The longer it has been going the harder it is to stop. Ingrained culture is something that needs your dedication to change. A positive school ethos that has taken years to develop can be undermined in weeks but will be more resilient if we stop that bandwagon soon enough.