Is your goal in life to be happier? Do parents want happiness for their children? Do teachers want happier classrooms for both themselves and their students?
Of course, the answer to all of these questions is yes. But, surprisingly, our schools don’t teach happiness. Instead, our education system focuses all of its energy on measurable learning, standardized test preparation, and career training. If everyone’s goal in life is to be happy, why aren’t we teaching that?
A new movement in positive psychology has led to a surge in positive education techniques used in the classroom. Contrary to what you might think, implementing positive education into your classroom doesn’t mean that you no longer teach content.
In fact, positive education techniques can infuse a classroom or school with happiness and require an average of only a few minutes per day. Many techniques require no extra time at all, just a rewiring of how things are done. Let’s take a look at 3 research-backed ways to make your classroom happier.
1) Greet students by name and include a positive statement at the beginning of class
Research has shown that just hearing your own name activates unique areas of the brain. Imagine if every time you entered a room in your house, there was a smiling, familiar person there to greet you and give you a sincere affirmation. You’d probably like going into that room more than the other rooms. In fact, one study showed that this practice can increase engagement in class by 27%.
2)Decorate your classroom with calming pictures and colors
When you decorate your classroom in a way that helps you feel at peace not only will you be happier, but your students will be too. Blue, which is my (boring) favorite color, has actually been shown to promote calmness. Nature, whether it’s the view out a window or just an image, also helps promote happiness and sustain attention. Also, one of the best sources for decoration is your students! If you do a creative project, hang up exemplary work. This motivates all students and makes your room look great.
3) Practice mindfulness and awareness with your students
There is an overwhelming amount of research that supports the role of mindfulness in promoting happiness. And mindfulness isn’t just meditation. That’s one thing we see people get wrong a lot. In fact, mindfulness can take many forms. Journal writing allows students to get in touch with their feelings and listening exercises allow students to express themselves and interact compassionately. We recommend starting every class period with a few minutes of mindful breathing.