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Having studied the work of Carol Dweck and others in a similar field such as Barry Hymer and James Nottingham, I have become fascinated with positive psychology and how some teachers and schools use this, sometimes unwittingly, to 'escape the culture of average' and maximise the progress and attainment of children.
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that heads of departments and teachers who can create a positive psychology achieve higher results than others. It is certainly a factor for within school variance.
Positive psychology matters in achieving goals - an absolute truth.
Shawn Achor, a positive psychology expert and winner of over a dozen distinguished teaching awards at Harvard University reveals some interesting insights from his experience and research. If you have not come across Shawn before - his TED talk provides a fascinating start to looking at his ideas. He talks about studying the outliners and how we should focus on not just moving people from the bottom towards the average but how we can move the entire average up.
"Its not the reality that shapes us but the lens that shapes the reality." If we can change the lens by which some children look at themselves as learners and learning, we can change their capacity for achievement. Possibilities can become realities. Some teachers are lucky enough to realise and utilise this as a natural part of developing their craft as a teacher, but why leave it to chance when we can tap into advocates such as Shawn? Why not consider how positive psychology can influence pupil outcomes in your school?
Shawn advocates focusing on creating positivity in the present. That a positive state is proven to increase creativity, resilience, intelligence, energy levels and leads to increased productivity, accuracy, speed and as a result outcomes rise compared to negative, neutral or stressed states. One reason for this is that dopamine which floods the system when positive, making you happier and turning on all the learning functions in the brain which in turns makes you more adaptable.
He gives some practical tips for redefining the lens of reality, including:
3 Gratitudes (Emmans & McCullagh, 2003)
Journaling (Slatcher & Pennebaker, 2006)
Exercise (Babyak at al, 2000)
Meditation (Dweck, 2007)
Random acts of kindness (Lyubomirsky, 2005)
Why not watch Shawn on TED talks and try his small changes for 21 days and see the ripple outwards or read his publications or consider training for your school linked to growth mindsets and harnessing positive psychology.
This year I have been fed up with the 'quick fix'. Whilst it has its place, you can't just whittle everything down to the seven steps to success. That's why I love Carl Honore's book 'The Slow Fix'. I like journalists who are also authors, like Malcolm Gladwell who has written some great books, such as Blink and Outliners.
The great Sir Ken Robinson's latest publication. Sir Ken considers the bored child in class, the disillusioned employee and those of us who feel frustrated, but can't quite explain why.
For those interested in all things ipad and how they can be used to change the way we teach, might be interested in Mr Andrew's blogspot. Links to some great pieces of software, definitely enough to get you inspired. Link