After Neila Connors’ mother — well into her 80s at the time — made a miraculous recovery from an operation that even the doctor was surprised she survived, he asked what was her secret to success.
To which Connors’ mother said: God, attitude and Coors Light.
While not advocating drinking, Connors did encourage teachers at the 2010 Central Alberta Teachers’ Convention in Red Deer on Friday to have an “attitude of gratitude” and have “an L of a day,” which includes learning, loving and laughing.
“You get up every day and you choose your attitude,” Connors said.
“If you’re getting out of your bed after slamming your snooze button for an hour, then in the shower standing there for another hour and praying for a snow day, in September, you could need to change your attitude because your attitude makes or breaks your day.”
Connors was born in Massachusetts but made her way to Florida as early as she could. She started teaching special education in 1973, eventually moving on to administration in the Department of Education in Florida and to teach education at university. She is the author of the book If You Don’t Feed the Teachers They Eat the Students. She was the closing keynote speaker at the Central Alberta Teachers’ Convention on Friday.
Connors confessed to one addiction during her talk — Post-It Notes. She carries them everywhere, writing encouragement to coworkers, students and even people in airports. She said it is a form of cheap therapy for her colleagues and students.
She wrote many notes to one young man she taught who showed talent but wasn’t using it. After teaching him for three years, he had made dramatic improvement and he told her he had something to show her. He had a binder in which he’d kept every note.
“You have to be there for every single student,” Connors said. “Kids know the adults that don’t want to be there.”
She said students might not remember what the teacher taught them but they’ll never forget how the teacher treated them.
“For many students, you are the most stable adult in their lives.”