Ways to Harness the Power of Positive Emotions in your Classroom
 As a primary
school teacher, I have  always
intuitively felt that happy kids learn better; now my studies in Positive Psychology  show me that my hunch was right, and the
reasons why. Positive Emotions are those emotions which make us feel happy and
satisfied - emotions such as zest, pride, joy, interest, hope, humour, kindness and
love. The psychologist Barbara Fredrickson has done extensive research on the
benefits of Positive Emotions. Her book  Positivity (2009 ) is well worth a read
for more information on this area.
 It turns out
that Positive Emotions don’t just make us feel good in the moment that we feel
them; they also bring more long-lasting benefits, and can set a spiral of
positivity into motion. These benefits include better immune system
functioning, stronger resilience and an increase in psychological resources.
 But it was learning
about the impact of Positive Emotions on learning that really excited me.
Research has shown that Positive Emotions are shown to have a variety of beneficial
effects on learning. These effects include improved working memory, enhanced
creativity and problem-solving.  Positive
Emotions also lead to an effect known as cognitive broadening – for example,
participants in an experiment were shown movie-clips which either caused
positive or negative emotions. The individuals who watched the positive clips
were subsequently able to generate more creative ideas than those who
experienced the negative emotions. Wouldn’t it be great to harness some of this
power in our classrooms?
With this in mind, I feel that it’s well worth
investing in strategies to boost Positive Emotion in our classrooms. Here are
ten suggestions which I find easy to implement, and which the kids really enjoy:
: Allow the children to write down their favourite
jokes on slips of paper. Put them all into a Joke Jar and pull one out at random times during the day.
: Allow the children to write down their favourite
upbeat song on a slip of paper. Put them into a Music Break box, and pull one out at random times during the day.
Put on the music, and allow the children to dance at their places. Let different
children lead the dance-moves, and alternate a few times during the song!
Memory Time
: Allow children to have Happy Memory time when they think of an
enjoyable event from the past. Encourage them to strengthen the memory by using
each of their senses. Perhaps they could them draw or paint a picture of their
memory. Then encourage them to look at their picture and
savour this memory if they need a mood
4.      Happiness
Allow the children to write and decorate a list of
ten things which make them happy, e.g. family, friends, hobbies, certain films
and songs etc. Discuss and display.
Gratitude Time: At
a random time daily, show a picture or object (Gratitude Object) to encourage
children to think quietly of five things which they are grateful for at that
moment. They can share in pairs or with the class, or just sit and have a quiet
Thank-You Cards: Let the children make a
thank-you card for someone special.
7.      Random
Acts of Kindness day:
Choose a day in which everyone
tries to carry out at least 5 acts of kindness. The class could suggest a list
of possible ideas to choose from, e.g., help someone with something, share
something, give a compliment, invite someone to play your game, cheer someone
up. Try to do this once a week for 6 weeks in a row, as research shows this
provides a positive impact on well-being.
8.      Kindness
: Encourage children to be Kindness
Detectives – notice others doing kind acts and report back to the class.
9.      Drama
Let the children choose a funny part of
one of their favourite films to act out in groups.
10.  Class
Happiness Song
the children to vote on a song which makes them happy. Learn it and sing it regularly!
(Ours is Bruno Mars- Count on Me).
Once Positive Emotions have been generated, you can think of  ways to harness their power. Maybe have a Positive Emotion boost before a problem-solving activity, or a spelling or phonics lesson.I've taught my class about the benefits of Positive Emotion, so now  they understand how they can boost their own learning.
Teaching kids how to generate their own Positive
Emotions is also vital in empowering them to create their own positive mental
health. That’s why I came up with the idea of the Positive Emotion Potion © as part of my Weaving Well-Being resources. The children learn about five
evidence- based strategies –they learn one per week, which they implement daily
and report back on. Then they learn how to give themselves a Positive Emotion Potion © boost daily to
help keep their minds healthy and happy!
Cohn, M.
A., Fredrickson, B. L., Brown, S. L., Mikels, J. A., & Conway, A. M.
(2009). Happiness unpacked: positive emotions increase life satisfaction by
building resilience. Emotion9(3), 361.
B. L. (2001). The role of positive emotions in positive psychology: The
broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. American psychologist,
56(3), 218.
B. (2009). Positivity: Top-notch research reveals the 3 to 1 ratio that
will change your life
. Random House LLC.
R. T., Kern, M. L., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2007). Health benefits:
Meta-analytically determining the impact of well-being on objective health
outcomes. Health Psychology Review1(1), 83-136
Isen, A. M., Daubman,
K. A., & Nowicki, G. P. (1987). Positive affect facilitates creative
problem solving. Journal of personality and social psychology52(6),
Yang, H., Yang, S.,
& Isen, A. M. (2013). Positive affect improves working memory: Implications
for controlled cognitive processing. Cognition & emotion,27(3),
Lyubomirsky, S.
(2008). The how of happiness: A scientific approach to getting the
life you want
. Penguin.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *