Happy Students, Happy Teacher:
Using Positive Psychology
Techniques in the Classroom
Presented by: Julie Carpenter, M.C [email protected]
Adjunct Faculty Chandler Gilbert Community College
Psychology and Counseling Divisions
Where did my ideas come from?
• The Happiness Advantage: The Severn Principles that Fuel Success
and Performance at Work by Shawn Achor
• Shawn Achor is a Harvard Graduate and advocate of positive
What is Positive Psychology?
• Most give credit to Dr. Martin Seligman, Director of the Positive
Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, as the founder of
• It is “the scientific study of the strengths and virtues that enable
individuals and communities to thrive. The field is founded on the
belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to
cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their
experiences of love, work, and play.”
Ask Yourself These Questions
Do you enjoy the time with your students in the classroom?
Do your students enjoy themselves in your classroom?
Do students watch the clock for your class to be over?
Why might this be important?
Experiment 1- Time
• Time experiment- Close your eyes and “Row, Row, Row, Your Boat”
• Depending on mindset, each person experiences the objective
reality of time differently.
• Those who find the task boring or meaningless may rate the time
• Those who are interested and engaged may rate the time as
• Time flies when you are having fun!
Experiment 2- Self Discipline
• You need one partner
• Person 1: For the next 7 seconds show no emotional reaction no
• Person 2: Wait for your instructions
• There is a ripple effect of smiling
• Positive emotions are contagious
• How much do you smile in your classroom? Do you see this
reflected in the students responses to you?
How I used a technique in my classroom
• The Moment Journal: Students must write one positive event that
they experienced and why it was their positive moment for the
day. Students do this for the entire semester and submit it in
three different segments.
• The book suggests to write down three moments a day. A study
was done that found that students were happier and less
depressed at the one-month, three-month, and six-month followups. The occurred even after stopping the exercise.
• This took the place of my self improvement essay.
Pre/Post Survey Results
• I am still tabulating the data, but here are a few student quotes:
• Do you feel that this assignment increased your overall daily
optimism level? Why or why not?
• “I feel Iike it really did! Whenever I would notice myself thinking
about the negative things happening I would go back and think of
the good things that happened. It made me realize that my life is
really good and I am blessed.”
• “YES. Actually after about a couple of weeks I would just start
waking up happy and when I would tell myself I was going to have
a good day, that was the result.”
• “Yes I would say that this assignment increased my overall
optimism level because now I don't think so much on negative
drawbacks in life but I start to look at every situation with a
positive attitude and figure out how to tackle more challenging
• “Yes, I liked it and I think it can be a helpful tool that feels more
applicable to your real life, unlike most classes and assignments.”
• “This assignment could be used in additional classes like English,
Communication, Health, and even Math!”
Things You can do to Cultivate Happiness
Be a good role model for your students!
Find something to look forward to
Commit conscious acts of kindness
Infuse positivity into your surroundings
Exercise a signature strength
How Can You Use This in Your Classroom?
• Think –Pair -Share
• What is one technique or tip that you can try out in your
• Clip from Ted Talk by Shawn Achor 12 minutes
• Have a happy day!
To Learn More
• Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment
• by Tal Ben-Shahar
• Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement in Everyday Life by
• Anything by Martin Seligman
• You can find TED talks by these psychologists as well