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Keeping it All in Focus

by Bill Cecil

I have a bulletin board in my classroom for current events. The title of the board comes from a quote that has great advice on how to view our experiences in life. The title reads, "The way you choose to see the world creates the world you see!"

At the beginning of the year, I explain to my students that if they go through life "looking" for all the bad things in the world they will "see" them.

However, the same is true about getting into the habit of looking for all the good things.

I told my students Wednesday morning (Sept. 12), "Unfortunately, bad things happen in this world, and it is important to be aware of them and question why they exist, but then try to find a way to be a part of the solution.

"It is important to keep the good things in your life in focus to give you the strength needed to deal with the bad things when they occur."

Even in this tragic story, there are many examples of good things going on. On Thursday, September. 13th, five trapped firefighters emerged from the debris to a chorus of "USA! USA! USA!"

New York citizens continued to cheer on the rescue crews and many blood banks were overflowing with people trying to make a donation.

Each day in my classroom, we start the day by writing down three things we are excited and/or happy about. My goal is to get students to focus on all the things going well in their lives before we get on with our day.

September 12th, we started our day the same way with one exception. On that morning, we each wrote one positive thing in the world to focus on and posted them on the board.

This helped remind us of the good, as we tried to deal with the bad.

At Waverly East Intermediate in Lansing, Michigan, we are trying to provide a balance to help counter all the negative images our students will continue to see on television and in the print media over the next few weeks.


Bill Cecil, a fifth-grade teacher at Waverly East Intermediate School in Lansing, Michigan, shares how his class and his school reacted to the September 11th tragedy. Cecil began his 16th year as a classroom teacher this fall. Contact Bill at