Positive education: benefiting teachers and students
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 123 No 7, 5 October 2018, page no. 20
Investing in positive education in a school is more than just investing in a wellbeing framework. It’s an investment in both teachers’ and students’ wellbeing and will positively develop a school’s culture.
Calamvale Community College (CCC) has made this investment. Our positive education team shared the start of our journey in a 2017 Queensland Teachers’ Journal article, and this is an update on our progress. Our goal is to highlight positive education, showing it as a cost-effective, viable option for a holistic student and staff wellbeing framework. Moreover, the resources and research in the positive psychology field underpinning those resources is growing exponentially, so the tools for implementation are plentiful.
“Where do we start?” is the big question. Positive education is a way of learning, thinking and being. Subsequently, CCC decided to spend two years and more than 30 hours of professional learning time devoted to positive education. Like all good change management practices, time to engage, learn and grow is a necessity for true change, with teacher familiarity and belief in positive education being the key to its success. An equally important factor, however, is that with such a large shift in wellbeing focus, there needed to be a change in philosophy and school-wide systems to complement teacher training. We saw this as an opportunity more than an obstacle.
Preparing the college
CCC quickly identified that positive education does not just belong within specific lesson times. Lessons have their place but are only a part of the puzzle. To best embed positive education in the fabric of our school, we revisited several key policy documents to align them with positive education, as well as reorganising our student management systems to incorporate more relational approaches to working with students. We treated this as preparation for students to engage with the concepts, as well as developing a culture that encourages engagement with the six elements of our model:
- positive accomplishment – mindset theory, feedback and goal setting
- positive emotions – seeking experiences to increase positive emotions
- positive relationships – developing skills to relate to others
- positive purpose – finding a greater purpose for every individual
- positive health – strategies and habits to ensure healthy mind and body
- positive engagement – finding flow in work and leisure.
Students did not receive explicit engagement with positive education in classes until close to two years after the college’s decision to implement the framework; however, through planning, they had an implicit familiarity with many of the concepts. This proved integral to implementation for both staff and students.
The cost of implementing positive education
There is no need for a handbook or program to be purchased in the implementation of this framework. Schools can spend as much or as little as they feel is appropriate. CCC has effectively utilised a train-the-trainer model, which has allowed the positive education team to tailor training that is responsive to the needs of staff. The costs are limited with this model, with the only real investment coming in the form of time given to the learning and practising of positive education concepts and strategies, which, from our experience, is the fun part for staff.
Positive education is about personal reflection and fun
Above all, our philosophy has always been to run through the research-based theory and then apply that theory in a fun and active way to help staff manage their busy personal and professional lives. In the high-pressure educational environment of the modern world, this is what a staff and student wellbeing framework should be all about.
Overall, CCC’s positive education team believes that, in a generation from now, positive education will lose the “positive” and just be “education” that permeates all schools’ wellbeing frameworks that look after the welfare of staff and students.
To find out more about positive education, visit https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/what-is-positive-education/
The Calamvale Community College Positive Education Team