This first week back at school for 2014 has been full of meetings. One of these stands out …..
Associate Professor Lea Waters, a psychologist from Melbourne Uni., , who talked about positive psychology – what it was, how it can positively effect student’s and teacher’s learning as shown by research studies, and some examples of how to start off the school year putting some of this into practice.
I loved the Thankful Dance -which has a whole uplifting back story.
Another thing I learned was about a thing called ‘The Negative Bias’ which is everyone’s subconscious way of looking out for problems, dangers, negative outcomes (*Negative Bias is the instinctive behaviour of paying more attention to negatives rather than positives, for example, a student focusing only on one low grade in amongst several other excellent grades. quoted from a Newington College article where Waters gave a lecture). It made me realise that this way of looking at situations is hard wired into us but what we need to do is to counter this negativity with als paying equal attention to the positives, for example, what is there to be grateful for in this situation? Encouraging children to articulate little and big things in their lives brings this to our attention.
Another school Lea is involved with has used this story- the Thankful Coat – to kick start the routine of ,at the end of every kinder day, the children all sit in a circle and 3 children get a chance to put the Thankful Coat on and tell everyone 1 thing they are thankful for that day. The trick is now to only have 3 children – more usually want to share.
Other practical examples Lea shared were gratitude walls, which she has seen used in primary, secondary classrooms as well as staffrooms to great effect. It reminds us all and re-focuses attention on what is going right and what is amazing and beautiful around us.
Lastly, it reminded me of the importance of nurturing relationships with our students – it’s not just warm and fuzzy to do this but has measurable benefits on their sense of well-being and academic success.
A great way to start the 2014 school year!!