- Positive Relationships (student-to-student and teacher-to-student)
- Positive Emotions
- Character Strengths
- Optimism (Middle-School & Adolescents)
- Goal Fulfillment (Middle-School & Adolescents)
Positive Relationships: Building teacher to student relationships through psycho-educational lessons and student-to-student through team-building activities
Positive Emotions: Me at My Best and Acts of Kindness (Sidebar – Research shows that people experienced increases in happiness when they performed acts of kindness on the same day, so try to have students do them close together!)
Gratitude: Gratitude Journal (have students write down one thing they are grateful each day for one week) and Gratitude Visits (have students express gratitude to someone who has been kind but never thanked in writing (adapted this per grade level, once again, this could be a picture/thank you sentences, a paragraph, or a multi-paragraph letter).
Character Strengths: Interventions included (1) Teaching About Character Strengths, (2) Student Assessment of Character Strengths, and (3) Identification of new ways to use identified strengths (try one to two). When discussing character strengths try explaining traits in relation to common heroes (maybe even a trait in a book the class is starting to read). For instance, in the movie Frozen, Anna demonstrates bravery and perseverance. Check-out the free Teacher’s Guide to the VA Decoder Report. When assessing character strengths, try using the Via Character Assessment that students can take online. The language and how in-depth will need to be adapted for children who are younger. Once students identify their character strengths, have them identify ways that they can use their top strengths (try for two to three different ways), documenting practice using their strength in a new way, and how they felt when they used the strength.
At the beginning of the school year, as educators we are often easing into things. Teaching behavior expectations, classroom-procedures, and building community in the classroom. In fact, at one of the school districts I previous worked at, teachers rated having time to build community as a leading importance. Why not take the time to conduct several lessons using positive psychology interventions as part of increasing happiness and helping to build community at the start of the school year? This may require some modifications in terms of content, such as cutting it down to one to two interventions for each for area or changing the presentation or response format depending on age group, the needs of your students, and time constraints.
Websites to Check-Out
VIA Institution on Character (Have students take the Values in Action Character Assessment)
Character Lab (Check out the WOOP goal setting and Growth Tracker: great way to combine technology, goal setting and tracking with students – most applicable with middle-school and high school students, but note-worthy!)
Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life
Upcoming Book to Check-Out
Shannon M. Suldo, PhD is publishing a book as part of Guildfor Practical Intervention in the Schools line, called Promoting Student Happiness: Positive Psychology Interventions in Schools. The book is anticipated to be release on July 2016.
Shoshani, A. and Steinmetz, S. (2014). Positive psychology at school: A school-based intervention to promote adolescents’ mental health and well-being. Journal of Happiness Studies, 15, 6, 1289-1311.
Suldo, S., Hearon, B., McCullough, M., Yu Hin Lam, G., Dickinson, S., and Esposito, E. Presentation: Targeted evidence-based positive psychology interventions to improve students’ happiness. February 11, 2016 National Association of School Psychologists National Conference.
Teacher’s Guide to the VA Decoder Report. (2012). Via Institute on Character Development. www.VIAME.ORG