Positive Psychology in the Classroom

Teaching students to be self-aware, self-assured, and self-sufficient.

Five Positive Psychology Resolutions for the New Year

Get it right this year at home and at school.

1. Become More Emotionally Aware - Be aware of every raw or processed emotion that you feel every minute of every day. New Years resolutions are intended to change us into different people. However, the only variable that truly changes us – transforms us for better or worse - is our emotion. Emotional awareness and emotional management are the only ways to become a different – hopefully improved – person. Teachers should expect students to arrive in class every day a "different" student given natural emotional fluctuations. Teachers should take notice and make comment. Ask yourself why you – and your students – are different today. “All of us every single year, we’re a different person. I don’t think we’re the same person all our lives.” – Steven Spielberg.

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2. Find Your Designer Strength - There is little doubt that some of you received a “designer” gift this year - a designer handbag, shoes, sweater, or perfume. Brand names of designers are plastered everywhere and these marketing labels are highly successful. So how would you brand yourself? What is your designer “label”? Are you brave? Funny? Determined? The key to substantive change is to find your designer strength and use it. Every time – especially when you are most discouraged or disappointed - and when you most want to give up. Help your students find their designer strength and use it as their superpower. Think about it: Helen Keller, who never saw a sunset or heard a song, found her resolve to be happy in her strength. “Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.” – Helen Keller.

3. Do Not Neglect Friends - In this rushed and harried world, it is often hard to maintain meaningful and intimate friendships. Make time every day in your own life, and in your classroom, to acknowledge and appreciate your friends - the ones you have in your life and the ones you should invite into your life. Nourishing relationships is central to a productive life and the foundation of all success from passing tests (study together!) to giving a speech (practice with friends!). Take what your friends offer you and give back in equal measure. “Accept what people offer. Drink their milkshakes. Take their love.” – Wally Lamb.

4. Be of Service to Other People - Every day in the New Year, do something for someone else. There are many grass-roots movements that promote random acts of mass kindness, “crowd fund” other’s dreams, and mob dance together. “You will find meaning each day that you can report to self: I bought Jane’s coffee today. I offered Joe a tissue. Hold the students in your classroom accountable to make the same such report at the end of each day. Resolutions are not achieved in a year- they are accomplished hour by hour. “Let our new year’s resolution be this: we will be there for one another as fellow members of humanity, in the finest sense of the word.” – Goran Perrson.

5. Stay Excited - A resolution is accomplished only if you do not allow enthusiasm to wane. Success in life, living, love, and learning is often determined by the positive passion of the response. Strive to motivate passion, instigate excitment, and model enthusiasm. “Character is the ability to carry out a good resolution long after the excitement of the moment has passed.” - Cavett Robert.

Notes

Read: Markman, A. (2001). Make smarter positive resolutions. University of Texas at Austin http://www.utexas.edu/know/2011/12/21/markman_art/

Read: Sheldon, K. M. & Kasser, T. (Winter, 2001). Goals, congruence, and positive well-being: New Empirical Support for Humanistic Theories. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 41, 1, pp. 30-50 http://jhp.sagepub.com/content/41/1/30.short

Explore: Bachel, B.K. (2000). What do you really want? How to set a goal and go for it for teens (Dream it! Do it!). Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit Publishing http://www.freespirit.com

Visit: Goal Setting Activities for Kids http://goalsettingactivities4kids.com

I would love to hear from you. What are your New Year’s resolutions? What were your resolutions last year? Were you successful? Do your students develop resolutions in class? Do they track their resolutions? Do you consider the New Year an opportunity to focus students on goals and help them reflect on them? Do you emphasize product goals or process goals more? Do you encourage emotional goals or behavioral goals? Create three New Year’s class resolutions and send them to me.

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My upcoming book, Positive Psychology in the Elementary School Classroom, is the first in a series intended to help teachers build positive psychology classrooms. http://books.wwnorton.com/books/Author.aspx?id=23961

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Patty O’Grady, Ph.D., is a Professor at the University of Tampa committed to transformational education. She is the author of Positive Psychology in the Elementary School Classroom.

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