Superintendents and school board members are gathering this week from across the country at AASA’s national conference, Leading for Excellence. Shawn Achor, renowned positive psychology researcher, speaker, and author of The Happiness Advantage is keynoting. He will, no doubt, challenge all those in attendance to consider the solid base of research coming out of the field of positive psychology, highlighting that the one most impactful, scientifically proven method for impacting educational outcomes, is to “change the lens through which your brain views the world that shapes your reality.” (Watch Shawn Achor’s TED talk: The happy secret to better work.)
While many will be inspired in the moment, what happens when the thousands in attendance return home? Home to the reality of running a school district – home to the pressures of shrinking budgets, high expectations, parental discontent and school board politics. Is it really just that simple to flip the switch to the positive?
The answer is yes! With a strong commitment by leadership; a laser focus on the positive – what’s right instead of what’s wrong; and basic knowledge, tools and resources in students and teachers hands, you can flip the switch! And the result? Researchers across the globe have found that making the switch results in significantly higher levels of performance, for both adults and children in educational systems.
Foundational to flipping the switch are VIA Institute’s well-researched 24 character strengths. When students and staff are equipped with a new language, the language of strengths, and basic techniques and tools, the switch gets flipped. See for yourself in Getting Smart’s recent blog post, How 2 minutes of SEL Can Change the Tone for the Day.
Want to know more about the research to back these claims up? A recent study published by Weber, Wagner and Ruch, states that “Character strengths emerge to be crucial for students to experience school-related positive effect, which in turn supports students’ positive school functioning and their overall school achievement (Weber, Wagner and Ruch, 2014).
Research showed feelings (i.e., affect, emotions) to be meaningfully related to different aspects that might be helpful in describing functioning at school. Positive feelings were found to be substantially positively related to students’ motivation (e.g., effort in learning), and negative feelings were negatively related to motivational aspects at school (e.g., Mega et al. 2014; Pekrun et al. 2002). … Finally, both positive feelings (positively) and negative feelings (negatively) were related to students’ academic achievement (e.g., Lewis et al. 2009; Mega et al. 2014).
Ready to flip the switch and let positive energy, and results, flood your hallways and classrooms? Follow the conversation on Twitter #NCE16 #LeadExcellence and check back on our blog for more ideas on how you can flip the switch in your own district.