Helping students to learn a range of positive coping skills will allow them to develop and practise
these skills and enable them to cope with future changes and challenges.
Positive self-talk is a key strategy for coping with negative thoughts, emotions, and events. Resilience research shows that use of positive self-talk is associated with greater persistence in the face of challenge, whereas negative self-talk is associated with higher levels of distress, depression and anxiety. Positive self-talk can be learnt or strengthened through practise.
“The Most Magnificent Thing” by Ashley Spires is a great example of a person using positive self talk to persist in the face of challenge. Have a look at this stop motion animation put together by Elmwood School in Ottawa (Canada).
Friendship means being a good friend to others and understanding that your friends have thoughts and feelings.
Within the VIA Character Strengths this is listed as “Social Intelligence” and falls under the category of humanity; strengths that manifest in caring relationship with others. Social awareness is about what we sense about others and what we do with our awareness.
Have You Filled a Bucket Today? is a heartwarming book that encourages positive behaviour by using the concept of an invisible bucket to show us how easy and rewarding it is to express kindness, appreciation and love by “filling buckets.”
There are many books that emphasise the concept of friendship. Which one is your favourite?
At Barwon Heads PS we value Mindfulness, so much so that one of the major components of our Pos Ed model is Mindfulness. Today we spoke to our staff about the benefits of mindfulness. We began with a short meditation. We then shared the results of an analysis of 15 studies which measured the impact of meditation in schools. (Waters et al 2015).
Students who are taught meditation at school reported higher optimism, more positive emotions, stronger self-identity, greater self-acceptance and take better care of their health as well as experiencing reduced anxiety, stress and depression. This is compared to before the meditation programs and compared to peers who were not taught meditation.
The review also showed that meditation helps the social life of students by leading to increases in pro-social behaviour (like helping others) and decreases in anti-social behaviour (like anger and disobedience).
Finally, meditation was found to improve a host of academic and learning skills in students. These included faster information processing, greater focus, more effective working memory, more creativity and cognitive flexibility.
This short film shows how practicing Mindfulness impacts on the brain.
We use websites and apps such as Class Dojo, Go Noodle and Smiling Minds in the classroom and personally, we use Buddify, Insight Timer and Headspace to name a few. YouTube also has a multitude of meditations.
Courage means being brave and doing what you think is right, even if you feel scared.
People who are courageous do not shrink away from threat, challenge, difficulty or pain. They speak up for what is right even if there is opposition. They are positive bystanders and act on their convictions.
There are three types of courage (an individual may possess one of these or a combination):
Love of learning is used to describe people who have an insatiable appetite to learn. It describes the way in which a person engages new information and skills. Love of learning is a strength that we teachers would like to see in their students. It has important motivational consequences because it helps people persist through challenges, setbacks and constructive feedback.
The main character in The Boy Who Loved Words by Ronni Schotter loves learning new words.
Do you have a subject (or two) that you love learning about at every opportunity?
I have been privileged to have attended the PESA (Positive Education Schools Association) conference over the last two days. I’ve also felt a sense of gratitude that Barwon Heads PS has generously supported my attendance. This shows the extent to which Positive Education is valued at our school.
Next week will be the first week of Term 2 and the character strength that we will be focussing on is gratitude. Gratitude is a value that has been emphasised at PESA. Kerry Howells talked about appreciation as the most effective state to be in to learn (ie to have strong cognitive functioning). Ahn Do spoke about his family’s attitude of gratitude to overcome adversity and Paddy Dangerfield spoke of the power of a team player acknowledging the impact that playing alongside him had on their game.
Practicing gratitude can reduce stress and leads to higher levels of hope and optimism. Being more grateful can also lead to increased levels of well-being (Emmons & Crumpler, 2000) and is also a powerful tool for strengthening interpersonal relationships. People who express their gratitude tend to be more willing to forgive others and less narcissistic (DeShea, 2003; Farwell & Wohlwend-Lloyd, 1998).
There are all sorts of ways to practice gratitude throughout your day. Thinking of three good things that happened during your day is a simple intervention that can flip your emotions and boost your wellbeing.
means: “I can control my emotions, thoughts and actions. I think carefully about how I behave”.
Self-control is controlling one’s own responses so they align with short and long-term goals.
Two important types of self-control for students are work self-control and interpersonal self-control. Having work self-control allows you to stick with your long-term goals and stay focused on a task that may be difficult or even boring. (This is the sort of self-control that also helps you stick to an exercise plan or make healthy eating choices in the face of temptation.) Interpersonal self-control allows you to maintain your temper, hold back from interrupting, and respond to others in ways that are socially appropriate.
Someone displaying self-control can delay a short-term temptation to play games on the computer if it interferes with her long-term aspiration to do her homework each night. Someone with high self-control who aims to run a marathon will not press the alarm clock’s snooze button on the morning he scheduled a training run. In this way, self-control is linked to grit, growth mindset, and optimism.
At school, demonstrating self-control could involve:
– Coming to class with everything needed to get to work rather than being unprepared
– Remembering and following directions rather than needing to be reminded
– Getting to work right away rather than procrastinating
– Paying attention rather than getting distracted
Interpersonally, demonstrating self-control could involve: – Allowing others to speak rather than interrupting
– Being polite to all, even when stressed or angry
-Not losing your temper- Remaining calm, even when criticised or otherwise provoked, rather than losing your temper
As corny as it sounds, it is true, giving is, indeed, better than receiving.
The act of giving is rewarding and benefits to the giver include a surge in “feel good” hormones and a drop in the stress hormone cortisol.
In one study, participants were given some money and told that they had to spend it before the end of the day. Those who were told that they had to spend it on others, (in contrast to those who had to spend it on themselves) were measured as happier.
The Dalai Lama believed that true happiness comes not from gathering material possessions but from being concerned about the needs of others and Ghandi said that the “best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
Social support, or offering and giving emotional help to others helps us to feel more satisfied and engaged with life. I will never forget when my two youngest children were severely ill in hospital and friends were doing all they could to support me both emotionally and physically. One night, a friend’s husband who I barely knew, knocked at our door to drop off a meal. I felt guilty because I wasn’t sure how I was going to repay his and everyone else’s kindness. This man said to me, “what goes around comes around.” I think he wanted me to understand the benefit that he received from giving to us. I also think that he felt that his kind act would enact the concept of “paying it forward”. It did, and years later, I still often remember his words.
Dunn, E. W., Aknin, L. B., & Norton, M. I. (2008).
Think about how you have supported and encouraged other people recently and how it made you feel. Fulfilled, happy and rewarding are words that come to mind and the more we practice giving the more habitual it will become.
Team work means that you are a great team mate. You do your share and get people to work well together.
This YouTube clip shows groups of animals banding together and looking after each other.
In each of our classrooms at Barwon Heads PS, we cooperate with each other and work together. When we go outside to play on the oval, whether it be cricket, football or soccer, teamwork is involved. Teamwork occurs at home when you do things to help others, especially your parents.
Can you think of any other examples of times when you have used the Character Strength of teamwork?