I recently completed ICEP Europe’s Teaching Happiness CPD course. I found this course interesting and really engaging and would encourage others to complete this course. The overall point of this course was to explore and introduce the concept of positive psychology and to look at the many ways that positive psychology can be used in the classroom and working with children.
The course content explored the concept of happiness and positive emotions. We learned about the factors that impact on happiness and determine levels of happiness. Happiness and positivity can impact on many aspects of our lives such as resilience and well-being. The potential use of positive psychology in classrooms was explored as happier resilient children are more open to and engaged in learning.
The course offered ways in which positive psychology can be used to create a positive classroom environment. This can be done by cultivating positive relationships, involving children in the classroom and their own learning and increasing positive emotions such as happiness optimism and hope. Techniques were discussed as well to deal with negative emotions such as anger. The course also explored mindfulness, mindful teaching and “flow” which could further encourage a positive learning environment. Another point was to explore with the children what their strengths are and to teach to those strengths rather than to remediate for weaknesses.
The course encouraged educators to learn to use positive psychology in our own lives. This works to encourage our own resilience and wellbeing but also to safeguard our energy for teaching. Positive teachers are more likely to have the ability to create a positive learning environment.
The questions and issues prompted for me were largely around my own attitude toward and energy for teaching. I found the statement that “over time, challenges and reality take its toll on idealism, energy and purpose” to be very accurate. I have been a special education teacher for 30 years. While I do still love what I do, this course made me really think and realise that I have lost some of my energy and enthusiasm in recent years. I had to really question if I create as positive a class environment as I would hope to.
I was reminded about the need for minding ourselves! We need those restful, mindful moments. I enjoyed learning about Character Strengths and being reminded of the fact that I Do have strengths, ones that led me into teaching to begin with. I also was inspired by the idea of involving children in the learning, asking them what they may want to learn about. I was reminded to look forward to each day by visualising success.
I will apply all the aspects of the course in the coming year. What I have become energised by especially is using my appreciation of beauty to create a visually aesthetic classroom. I will also make an effort to visualise my more challenging students as successful. I will use various children’s literature to help the children identify their own character strengths and to encourage them to put those strengths into action. I love the idea of a class treasure chest where will keep memorabilia of our happy time together and examples of successes. I won’t be afraid to deal with anger using the techniques explored in the course.
I have thoroughly enjoyed the course and I am now feeling re-energised as a teacher and am looking forward to a new school year.
Summer 2018, Teaching Happiness Student