Positive psychology can help us to build positive habits into our lives – positive habits or thought, speech and behaviour, firstly in ourselves and then in the students we work with.
To become a mindful teacher, we must engage with the three aspects of mindfulness, observation, objectivity and openness. If we switch off automatic pilot and become really aware of our class and our students, we can enter into a more creative mindset and open up more flexible thinking. In this mindful state of observation, we can look for new information, see different aspects of each student in the class and act on the basis of what we see and hear. Having a growth rather than a fixed mindset about students opens up possibilities.
Be aware of your own thinking and how that influences your behaviour. Monitor your own thoughts, before class mentally review your students, noting those with whom you anticipate a problem. Try to imagine these students succeeding or engaging in positive behaviour. When you interact with them, try to keep in mind these positive expectations to get the best from your students.
Reflect, with compassion for both yourself and your students on the following:
If we want to grow as teachers, we need to be willing to reflect upon what is important to us about our work and we must learn more about the human dimensions of our craft – about our relationships with students, about our vulnerabilities and powers.
Recognition of our signature strengths and how we use them in the classroom is a vital part of becoming a mindful and reflective teacher. Our strengths can help us to reignite our passion for teaching and inspire new ways of engaging and connecting with our students.
The more aware we are of our own strengths and how to use them, paradoxically the more comfortable we are with admitting where we may need help and spotting the strengths of others. Love of learning, kindness and empathy are among the important strengths for teachers. Consistent use of our signature strengths in new ways increases both happiness and feelings of fulfillment. This produces flow and can be contagious – your enthusiasm and passion are already communicated to students and can help them achieve flow too.
Being a good teacher is not down to a single technique, good teachers share one trait: they are authentically present in the classroom, in harmony with their students and their subject. When we behave in an authentic manner, it creates the experience of connectedness with others.
If you want to learn more about how to apply positive psychology to both your own life and with your students, check out our professional development courses in wellbeing here: https://www.icepe.eu/cpd