If you’re the type of person who enjoys fun educational facts, you might know that human beings have something called a “negativity bias”. Negativity bias (also known as a negativity effect) is the idea that, even when someone is experiencing a variety of events, the negative ones will stick out more than the positive ones. In fact, some psychologists argue that for a person to achieve emotional balance, they must experience three positive things for every negative one. As such, it can be very difficult for individuals to rest and relax during periods of personal or cultural duress.
I don’t know about you, but my negativity bias has been working overtime this year. From the pandemic to the fractious social environment, I have literally been exhausted by bad news. Now, my usual response would be to crawl back into bed with a box of Cheez-Its. However, over the past few weeks I’ve received several positive boosts from fellow educators as well as several students. Despite everything being thrown at them, teachers and students have still found ways to encourage others.
So, in honor of the many selfless helpers out there, I’d like to do my part. Here are five inspirational stories to help balance out that negativity bias!
Teachers Assist Critical Medical Personnel
In Modesto, California, Tom Arnold and a team of teachers have volunteered to work with the children of critical medical personnel who are battling the COVID-19 crisis. These teachers are providing an incredible service to doctors and first responders. By providing free childcare, they can do their essential work without distraction. Tom even coordinated the order and delivery of several free PBL units. Now he and his team are teaching their students how to prevent the spread of sickness!
Teenager Uses TikTok to Teach Students Math
A 16-year-old high-schooler from The Bronx has earned a substantial following on social media by helping out-of-school students with their algebra, geometry, chemistry, and SAT prep. Alexis Loveraz, now know by some as the “TikTok Tutor”, wanted to help students stay educated during the pandemic. He began uploading educational videos and soon went viral. In fact, his tutorials have become so popular that they’re now appearing on Google Classrooms, with kids all over the globe tuning in to sharpen their math and science skills.
School Choir Performs Virtual Concert
Speaking of “tuning in”, a group of high school students have been serenading the internet with a magnificent rendition of Israel Kamakawiwoʻole’s, “Over the Rainbow.” When the Chino Hills High School Chamber Singers learned they wouldn’t be able to perform at their scheduled concert, the students took to Zoom so they could sing remotely. Their touching performance eventually made its way online with, “…the goal of spreading hope and cheer during this difficult time.” Since then, the video has racked up more than a million views!
The Special Delivery Teacher
In Greece, NY, a first-grade teacher is delivering joy to her students by dropping off small gifts. According to USA Today, educator Deborah Cowley is hoping to keep her class encouraged even as they continue to social distance. Cowley sent all 20 of her students a letter and a self-addressed stamped envelope so they could be pen pals. When the school celebrated virtual spirit week, she added some fun by dressing in sock monkey pajamas. Cowley also found a way to send learning materials to a student who didn’t have access to the internet.
Here selflessness and generosity have done much to help her students stay positive.
The Curiosity Creators
Finally, I would like to risk a little self-promotion by highlighting three of my co-workers at the VAEI: Cory Kavanagh, Jon Oosterman, and Randy Schregardus. Over the past four months, these three educators have worked tirelessly to supply parents with activities and investigations designed to keep curiosity alive. Their ever-expanding roster includes educational books, scientific superhero battles, slime experiments, and much more. Numerous parents have used this free document to ensure their kids remained educated and entertained while sheltering in place. We simply can’t thank these guys enough for all their hard work!
Always Look on the Bright Side
It’s been a tough year, and we don’t know what else we’ll face in the coming Fall. Nevertheless, we can have confidence in the courage, creativity, and perseverance of those around us. Students and educators everywhere have demonstrated there is no challenge we can’t overcome with a sharp mind and an open heart. So, as you begin your summer, let go of the negativity bias and remember to look on the bright side!