Saint Mark’s 4th-grade teacher, Mr. Bowlin, takes on NEGATIVITY. Mr. Bowlin, we’re glad you’re in the classroom, along with many others, saying negativity needs to be put in check. Over the last 3-4 years, negativity has been on the top of the list of concerns we’re hearing being vocalized from schools across our great country. Mr. Bowlin’s newsletter addresses it and offers some insights. Enjoy and learn!


Top 20: Identifying Negativity

We continue to work our way through our Top 20 curriculum and our next unit will focus on the idea of Eliminating Negativity. To begin our discussion, we read a familiar story for the students, “Jonathan James and the Whatif Monster” by Michelle Nelson-Schmidt. At the beginning of the story, the main character Jonathan is constantly reminded about the potential negative things that could happen in his life.  However, by the end of the story, Jonathan is able to reframe his situations and make his outlook on future events positive. In the end, it was clear that the positive thoughts were much more desirable than the negative thoughts.

The emotion of worry is a major source of negativity for any person of any age.  We never worry that we might have too strong of friendships, get an A on a test, or do well in a sport or activity.  Our worries are typically concerned with the desire to avoid the feelings of NGE (Not Good Enough). We need to find a way to weed out negativity and worry and feed our mind with positivity. Our biggest takeaways from the lesson came from the following quotes: “You can’t live a positive life with a negative mind” and “Stop worrying about what could go wrong, and get excited about what could go right.”

In every situation we have the choice to choose faith over fear. We can choose to believe that we are in control of our inside experience and the thoughts we are filling our minds with. Although we cannot control our outside conditions, we can control certain aspects of our lives such as our attitude, effort, and positive self-talk that directly impact our experience. Having faith means believing that things will work out in our best interest, while fear focuses on negative outcomes.

Identifying negativity in our lives is the first steps to leading a more positive life. We will never be able to eliminate all the negativity we encounter, but we can reduce it by focusing on what we can control. Asking yourself “what if” questions when faced with a new or uncomfortable experience, is not entirely a bad thing.  Sometimes we are motivated for success when we want to avoid a negative outcome and asking ourselves what if questions can help us prepare for potential obstacles that lie ahead.  However, it is equally important to find yourself filling your mind with positive beliefs for future events. Consider having a conversation with your son/daughter about some of their worries as a 4th grader and how filling their minds with positivity has an incredible ability to positively influence our lives.


-Mr. Bowlin

Saint Mark’s School

St. Paul, MN