An elderly veteran teacher used to tell her students "Change your attitude and change your day." We often hear other teachers talking about particular students needing an attitude adjustment. Educators yearn for a change of student attitude toward learning and school with the hope that everything will be better. The fact is that attitudes are very slow to change.
This task is needed to keep in mind and will help through the long haul. Teachers and principals need to be both understanding and patient with student attitudes. Unless you teach in a Pre-K program, you are inheriting the attitudes developed over years of schooling. If the attitudes are negative, this means that the student has been viewing the world through this attitude and has many examples to prove his or her attitude is correct. In one example, a second-grade girl believed teachers were mean. When she and her friend saw this mean teacher being nice to another student, the one girl remarked "The Principal was probably watching her". People often change reality to fit their beliefs. Changing attitudes is not only slow, but requires a battle with the mind.
The understanding necessary before we can nurture positive attitudes is that attitudes are formed from our experience. Most likely, the second-grade girl experienced a teacher who must have done something she considered mean. This experience turned into a belief that created an attitude. From this point on, she overlooked nice things but noticed everything mean. Understanding this, one would be foolish to believe that one nice thing or one conversation will change this student's attitude.