Is it possible to have happy classrooms?
Happiness is a skill that can be learnt just like helplessness can be learnt. The study of happiness comes from the field of Positive Psychology. Positive Psychology is the study of what is right with people as opposed to what is wrong with people.
So, what does all this have to do with having happy classrooms?
Research suggests that happy people have a more optimistic outlook on their day, they are more accepting, resilient and have better relationships with both themselves and others.
Imagine students entered the classroom in this state?
How? I hear you say?
Here are 5 quick tips on building happy, positive relationships in your classroom;
1. Smile more – it sounds so simple yet sometimes we are so focussed on our busy-ness we forget. Keep in mind 55% of all communication occurs non verbally, so regardless of your stressors and things on your to do list, by smiling more you will be communicating your willingness and commitment in giving your time to your students.
2. Reduce the ‘Shoulds’ – No one likes to be told what to do, especially young people. Should implies aright and a wrong and no one likes to be wrong either. Instead offer young people an option by using the word ‘could’ instead of ‘should’.
3. Teach gratitude – Some may say we live in a glutinous world appreciating little. Take the time to remind students of what the have as opposed to what they don’t have. Ask students to list three things they are grateful for.
4. Allow a recreational whinge – venting, debriefing and having a good old whinge can be very useful and freeing at times. The key is managing it by giving it a time limit and then refocussing on possible solutions not the problem.
5. Listen – People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. As teachers, we repeatedly ask students to listen. If we want them to listen to us, we have to listen to them. Inquire about their day, what inspires them, any challenges they have encountered and legacies they have left. This is the beginning of building powerful, meaningful conversations.
As a final word can i say that happy classrooms do not mean fantasy classrooms without structure, boundaries and challenge. The tips here are strategies to add to the already great job you do.
The bottom line is, if you want happy, productive classrooms, then show and be happy yourself – you are the centre piece of your classroom.
I hope your find these simple steps useful. I am always open to feedback and welcome your comments.
Have a happy week.