5 Ways to Promote Happiness in Your Classroom

1 Oct 2019
ICEPE Europe
Category:Wellbeing and Resilience
5 Ways to Promote Happiness in Your Classroom

Stephen Smith is currently working at ICEP Europe as a Tutor and Researcher, having joined the team in January 2017. He holds a BA (Hons) in Psychology and an MSc (Hons) in Health Psychology, both from the National University of Ireland, Galway. Stephen's role involves supporting the academic team by teaching, presenting and publishing across a number of ICEP Europe's online courses, as well as assisting in the execution of a range of ICEP Europe's research projects. He tutored on our ‘Teaching Happiness’ course in our previous summer term and today he has shared some of his insights on how we can all include happiness in our classrooms.

  1. Make Your Students Feel Safe and Valued In order for students to thrive, they must first feel secure and cared for. Simple strategies such as using your student’s first name when greeting them, and enquiring as to how each student is feeling at the beginning of each day can help to establish a trusting relationship.
  2. Consider Your Communication Style Children require a higher ratio of positive to negative interactions than adults in order to flourish (a ratio of at least 5:1 is recommended). It is important to bear in mind that students may construe direct instructions (“Everyone put on your coats and line up”) as a negative interaction. Rethinking your interactional style to transform a direct instruction into a more desirable positive interactions (“If everyone puts on their coat and lines up, we can go outside and have some fun!”) could help to promote positivity and facilitate flourishing in your students.
  3. Hunt the Good Stuff Consistent engagement in gratitude practice has been associated with increases in positive emotion, decreases in negative emotion and enhancements in overall wellbeing. Simple strategies such as encouraging students to identify three good things that have occurred over the course of the school day, or helping students to start their own personal gratitude journal can help to focus students’ minds upon those elements which consistently add joy and vibrancy to their daily lives.
  4. Bookend the Day With Enjoyable Activities Identifying tailored mood boosters (activities that the entire class enjoys such as stories, poems, songs, games or, even, making an entry into their Gratitude Journal) and embedding these into your daily schedule can assist the students in entering and departing the classroom in an enthusiastic and upbeat manner.
  5. Remember – Positive Emotions are Contagious:Research has shown that our emotions are closely aligned to our mood, with the experience of emotions (both positive and negative) being seen to influence the way we feel. Interestingly, our emotions can also be impacted upon by the emotions of others, in a process known as “emotional contagion”.  Teachers can avail of this effect by using their own mood to boost positivity with a classroom via deliberate interventions. If you feel the class is becoming engulfed in negativity, feel free to crack a joke or share a smile – you’ll notice the difference!

For more information on Teaching Happiness you can visit the course page here. Alternatively, you can email Ellen at e.kenehan@icepe.eu and she will be happy to answer any questions that you may have.

Stephen will be tutoring on our ‘Teaching Hope & Optimism’ course in the Autumn term, which is another of our positive psychology courses we offer that focuses on building resilience and positive thinking in our students. You can check out some more details on this course here.

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