Muswellbrook High School and Where there’s a Will hoping to make a positive change

THE P in the PERMA model of positive psychology represents positive emotions.

There are a wide array of positive emotions including gratitude, joy, hope, pride, amusement, satisfaction and love.  

Researchers in positive psychology suggest that in order to live a ‘good life’, we need to experience a 3:1 ratio of positive to negative emotions. 

Positive emotions are not only a sign of optimal wellbeing, but can themselves promote wellbeing. 

The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions contends that experiencing positive emotions impacts upon our attention, thoughts and actions, leading to improved social, physical and intellectual capacity. 

Essentially, positive emotions cultivate more positive emotions, creating an upward spiral of happiness. 

Muswellbrook High School is currently focusing on building the positive emotions of staff. 

They are using the Geelong Grammar School philosophy of Live it, Teach it, Embed it to guide our foray into positive education. 

The “Live it” phase involves beginning a shift in school culture by building the knowledge and skills of staff, thus ensuring that when they move to the “Teach it” phase, the programs and lessons being taught to students will benefit from the authenticity and expertise of teachers who have had personal experience with positive psychology practices. 

So far in 2018, MHS has employed a range of strategies aimed at increasing the positive emotions of staff. 

Gratitude: We have a Gratitude Box and provide opportunities at meetings for staff to anonymously record some things they are grateful for on notecards, which are then placed in the box. Staff are encouraged to check back to see what their colleagues are grateful for. We also have an ‘Appreciation Station’ display board where staff can publicly show their appreciation for each other with post-it notes. 

Pride and joy: At our weekly staff morning tea, teachers are encouraged to share good news from their faculty from the week. This can include stories about student achievement, sporting endeavours or successful excursions and learning experiences. Teachers benefit not only from sharing their own success, but relishing in the success of their colleagues. 

Love: Two staff members are randomly selected each week to be the lucky recipients of some extra love and kindness from their colleagues. This is expressed in many ways, including kind notes and emails, compliments and well wishes, and token gifts (ie. lots and lots of chocolate!). 

Perhaps you could have a go at implementing similar initiatives at your school or workplace.