Positive Psychology and the Action Teacher

From theory to action in the classroom

Posted Jan 09, 2013

There has been much focus on action research in schools. "Action research” - a term first coined by the psychologist, Kurt Lewin - is used to describe solutions-oriented, applied research. As Lewin complained, “Research that produces nothing but books will not suffice.”

Now educational leaders focus on “action teaching”. Action teaching is comprised of the units, curriculum, lessons, and activities that produce fundamental changes in the way students feel, think, and act. Action teaching emphasizes the three taxonomies of education: cognitive, affective, and conative and does not bifurcate these core components. Action teaching invests in the whole child.

The Social Psychology Network (SPN) defines action teaching as education that “leads not only to a better understanding of human behavior but to a more just, compassionate and peaceful world.”  

Are you an action teacher? Are you a positive psychology teacher? If so, you now have the opportunity to share your ideas with others and to win $1,000.00 in the process. The SPN website describes the Action Teaching Award as having two main purposes. First, it is intended to honor innovative efforts at action teaching. Second, it is designed to disseminate effective action teaching techniques and materials to a wide audience. Accordingly, award-winning examples of action teaching will be featured in SPN, and action-teaching materials will be made freely available to other teachers.

Award entries may include classroom activities, field experiences, student assignments, or web-based tutorials and demonstrations. For information on previous winners, go to the SPN website and use the pull-down menu found there. http://www.socialpsychology.org/awards/teaching.htm

SPN announces that the award is open to all instructors regardless of student level (e.g., K-12, high school, college, or adult learners). Entries may focus on the individual, group, or societal level and may address any major social issue, including prejudice, social injustice, conflict, crime, poverty, hunger, public health, the environment, animal cruelty, and domestic violence, among others.

A panel of teaching experts appointed by SPN will conduct a blind review of entries. In this review, entries will be judged on the degree to which they meet the award criteria including clear description, emblematic of action teaching, originality and quality, focused on learning about human behavior firsthand, contributes to the betterment of individuals and society, lends itself to adoption by others, evidence of effectiveness, and discussion of potential pitfalls, variations, and implications.

The application is due January 15, 2013. If you do not participate this year, mark it on your calendar for next year.  Be an action teacher! Be a positive psychology teacher!


Join: SocialPsychology Network SPN http://www.socialpsychology.org/awards/teaching.htm

Read: Plous, S. (2012). Action Teaching. Encyclopedia of Peace Psychology, First Edition, Black Publishing Ltd., Edited Daniel J. Christie http://www.socialpsychology.org/pdf/encyclopedia-peace.pdf?logged=true

Read: Azar, B. (2008) Bringing lessons to life. APA Monitor on Psychology, December, pp. 36-38.

Read: Plous, S. (2008/2009). Are you an action teacher? American Psychological Association Education Directorate, For Teachers of Introductory Psychology, Winter 08/09 (18) 4, pp. 1, 4, 8, 10, 11.

Visit: The Jigsaw Classroom http://www.jigsaw.org

I would love to hear from you. Are you a positive psychology teacher? Are you an action teacher? Do you focus on emotional awareness? Strengths? Relationships? Meaningful Learning? Personal Accomplishment? Do you create lessons that help students understand their behavior and the behavior of others? Do you design activities that teach children how to reduce conflict and find intrapersonal and interpersonal peace? Do you have time to enter the Action Teacher Award contest this year? If not, will you mark your calendar and get your application ready for next year? In 2013, I also plan to host a contest that invites and motivates educators, and others, K-12, to share their positive psychology lessons. Stay tuned!


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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