During my second year of college, I had an English teacher by the name of Mrs. Simmons. I will never forget her for one simple reason: She did something on the first day of class that I had never seen done before nor have I seen it done since. This would not be a very significant statement if it were not for the fact that I have so much education under my belt (way beyond my intelligence). I have graduated from five different colleges with two Master’s degrees and one Doctorate degree. No one can accuse me of not being supportive of higher education! As strange as it may sound, I would go back to school tomorrow if I had the time. I have an insatiable appetite for learning. I am not exactly sure where I acquired it, but I am very grateful for it. I think it is important that we continue to learn and grow throughout life. But, anyway, let’s get back to Mrs. Simmons.
Our first day of class, Mrs. Simmons held up her grade book and showed us that beside our names she had allotted each one of us 1000 points. I was immediately intrigued as I wondered why in the world we already had 1000 points by our names. Mrs. Simmons went on to explain that we would have ten tests in her English class that semester, each valued at 100 points. She was starting with the assumption that we would all make 100% on each of the ten tests. We had not even had the first test yet and we already had 1000 points. To me, that was exciting and motivating!
Mrs. Simmons further explained that if we scored 90% on our first test, we would lose 10 points from our 1000 point total. We would then have 990 points or a 99% average. If we made an 80% on the next test, we would have 970 points remaining or a 97% average, and on she went. Then she smiled at us and said, “Just think, you all have an A+ right now, so work hard to keep it!”
I cannot explain what happened inside of me that day. I had never had a teacher to approach my grade in that manner. I think in my mind I had always begun each new class with a zero, or an F. I began with the notion that I had to start at the bottom and work my way to the top. Now, all of a sudden things were different. Mrs. Simmons started us at the top!
How many teachers ever put you in a posture to succeed from the very first day of class? Each of us in the class worked very hard in English that year. We all worked from a position of success rather than failure. When we got together after each test we would talk about how many points we had left! We all ended up with very good grades. As I mentioned earlier, I had never seen that approach used before, and I have not seen it since. Yet, to me, it was so powerful!
I have thought about that many times through the years. Mrs. Simmons was probably the first teacher to help me understand a positive mental attitude (PMA) in a way that I could actually receive it. I was just a young man trying to get through school, but she had a different agenda. She wanted to actually motivate me. Many teachers just put the information out for students to get if they want it. Their approach is less than motivating. Mrs. Simmons found a way to ignite a desire in each of us to do better; to keep the good grade from which we had been positioned from day one.
In some strange way, I think Mrs. Simmons helped me to be more positive at an early age in my life. Even though subsequent teachers did not approach teaching the same way, I started saying to myself, “I have an A in this class. I’m going to work hard to keep it!” And, I succeeded more times than not. Academic success is not just about good grades; however, Mrs. Simmons worked some magic inside of my head and heart that continues to this day.
This week, let me encourage you to look for ways to help people get to success by being positive and encouraging to them before they have to “earn” their way there. Dr. James Dobson has often said that it is better to start by giving self-esteem to others before making them earn it in order to teach them how good it feels to have it. I totally agree.
I like doing all I can to fill everyone’s cup with positive words of affirmation and love when I have the opportunity. You can do the same thing. We can make a difference in people’s lives! We can be Mrs. Simmons to someone this week.
Tip: There needs to be more people like Mrs. Simmons.
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm