Rick Snyder’s Hope Theory and The Role Of Positive Psychology In Academic Achievement

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Hello my friends!

In 1991, the eminent positive psychologist Charles R. Snyder and his colleagues came up with Hope Theory. According to their theory, hope consists of agency and pathways. The common conception of hope is based on Snyder’s hope theory (1994, 2002) which describes hope as a positive motivated state and a cognitive process with three distinct, yet related elements (Snyder & Lopez, 2007):

1. goal-directed thinking – valuable but uncertain goals providing direction and end-point.

2. pathways thinking – the perceived capacity to find routes to desired goals.

3. agency thinking – the requisite motivations to use those routes.

According to hope theory, conceptualized by Snyder and colleagues, hope is a goal directed cognitive process. It is characterized as a human strength that involves a person capacity to (a) clearly conceptualize goals (goals thinking), (b) create ways or strategies to achieve those goals (pathways thinking), and (c) initiate and sustain motivation for using those strategies (agency thinking) to effectively obtain what a person is looking for. Any deficit in this cognitive theory (goals, agency, pathways) reflects low hope. Indeed, neither agency nor pathway thinking alone is sufficient to sustain hope. The  person who has hope has the will and determination that goals will be achieved, and a set of different strategies at their disposal to reach their goals. When high-hope people encounter obstacles in pursuit of a goal, they do not despair. Having identified multiple routes to reach objectives, they simply choose another route and go around the barrier. Low-hope people, in contrast, may give up when encountering barriers to goals because they cannot think of other pathways to surmount the obstacles. This often results in frustration, a loss of confidence, and lowered self-esteem. In order to sustain movement toward one’s goals, both a sense of agency and a sense of pathways must be operative (Snyder, 2000).

Hope involves the will to get there, and different ways to get there. Psychological well being in society is improved if people are allowed to pursue goal directed activity and achieve rewards. A considerable body of research suggests high-hope individuals are more resilient, experience lower levels of anxiety and depression and experience better outcomes in the workplace and at home (Lopez et al. 2004; Snyder & Lopez, 2007). They are less like to abandon their goals and more likely to stay the course in pursuing their aims. The experience of hope has a positive influence on individual health and well-being (Gallagher & Lopez, 2009; Shorey, Little, Snyder, Kluck, & Robitschek, 2007; Snyder et al., 1996). Optimism as a trait is also studied in positive psychology, and appears as the VIA Strength of Hope and Optimism. Hope and optimism are both part of cognitive, emotional, and motivational stances toward the future, indicating a belief that future good events will outweigh bad events (Peterson & Seligman, 2004). Individuals with high hope experience better overall physical, psychological, and social well-being. Hopeful people have also been found to be less reactive to stressful situations (Chang & DeSimone, 2001; Snyder, 2002). Scheier and Carver (1985) emphasize generalized outcome expectancies in their theory and assume that optimism is a goal-based approach that occurs when an outcome has substantial value. In this optimism model, people perceive themselves as being able to move toward desirable goals and away from undesirable goals (antigoals; Carver & Scheier, 2000a). Although pathways-like thoughts and agency-involved thoughts are implicit in their model, the outcome expectancies (similar to agency) are seen as the prime elicitors of goal-directed behaviors (Scheier & Carver, 1985, 1987). High-hope people embrace self-talk agentic phrases as “I can do this” and “I am not going to be stopped” (Snyder et al., 1998).

The acquisition of goal-directed hopeful thought is absolutely crucial for the child’s survival and thriving. Children with higher levels of hope are more creative, have better academic results, better social skills, higher self-esteem, self-realization, better perceptions of being able to solve problems and face obstacles ( Snyder et al., 1997). These children are guided by successful experiences rather than frustrations and are more apt to set challenging (and achievable) goals and develop more satisfactory life goals ( Snyder et al., 2003). On the other hand, children with lower levels of hope are more prone to frustration, anxiety, depression, and aggression ( Snyder et al., 2003). Teachers who perceive the plight of low-hope students in the classroom, however, should resist the impulse to “give them a break” and not demand as much from them as from other students in the classroom. Rather, a caring adult who has high expectations and who demands high levels of performance can instill hope in a young person  (McDermott & Snyder, 2000). It is important to emphasize that in order to give hope to others, you must first have hope yourself (Snyder et al., 1997).

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I love Vicki’s Zakrzewski article How to Help Students Develop Hope in Greater Good Magazine published by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley.

1.Identify and prioritize their top goals, from macro to micro. Start by having students create a “big picture” list of what’s important to them—such as their academics, friends, family, sports, or career—and then have them reflect on which areas are most important to them and how satisfied they are with each. Keep in mind that the goals must be what the students want, not what their parents or schools want. Otherwise, as studies suggest, they will quickly lose their interest and/or motivation, especially as they come up against obstacles. Finally, students should rank their goals in order of importance.

2. Breakdown the goals—especially long-term ones—into steps. Research has suggested that students with low hope frequently think goals have to be accomplished all-at-once, possibly because they haven’t had the parental guidance on how to achieve goals in steps. Teaching them how to see their goals as a series of steps will also give students reasons to celebrate their successes along the way—a great way to keep motivation high!

3.Teach students that there’s more than one way to reach a goal. Teaching them to visualize different paths to their goals will help them get beyond insurmountable barriers. Perhaps most importantly, teachers need to make sure that students don’t equate those barriers with a lack of talent; instead, they need to be reminded that everyone faces obstacles. Success usually requires creative ways to overcome these obstacles, not avoiding them altogether.

4.Tell stories of success. Scientists have found that hopeful students draw on memories of other successes when they face an obstacle; however, students with low hope often don’t have these kinds of memories. That’s why it’s vital for teachers to read books or share stories of other people—especially kids—who have overcome adversity to reach their goals.

5.Keep it light and positive. Research has found that students who use positive self-talk, rather than beating themselves up for mistakes, are more likely to reach their goals.

Love always,

Vassiliki xxxx

 

Teacher Character Strengths: Which are the nine characteristics of a great teacher?

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Hello my friends!

Positive psychology is said to be an umbrella term for the study of positive emotions, positive character traits, and enabling institutions (Seligman, Steen, Park, & Peterson, 2005). It can be described as the study of what people do right, and how they do it, and involves aiming towards helping people to develop those qualities that will help them lead more fulfilling lives. Within the field of positive psychology the terms subjective well-being and life satisfaction is often used interchangeably with happiness, which are more scientifically solid terms for what people usually associate with happiness (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). A premise of positive psychology is that it is possible to improve mental health, and make development and growth feasible, by focusing on and elaborate on strengths of character and positive personality traits. To be able to put a name to what one does well, to gain knowledge about and cultivate ones strengths is thought to promote well-being. Happiness is in theory and research often substituted with the term wellbeing, in particular referring to individual, or subjective, well-being (SWB). It can be defined in terms of the individual’s cognitive and affective evaluations of his or her life as a whole (Diener, Oishi, & Lucas, 2009). As such, these judgements will consist of both cognitive evaluations of life satisfaction, as well as emotional responses to events.
Thus, subjective well-being is an individual experience that implies high levels of pleasant moods and emotions (not just the absence of negative ones) and high life satisfaction, resulting from a global judgement of all aspects of a person’s life.

This blog post provides the basics for what has become known as the six core virtues of psychological strength; courage meaning emotional strengths that involve the exercise of will to reach goals in the face of difficulties, justice, denoting civic strengths that underlie healthy community life, humanity, which implies interpersonal strengths that enhance meaningful social relationships, temperance, implying strengths which protect against excess, wisdom, denoting cognitive strengths that imply the gaining and using of knowledge, and finally, transcendence, which means strengths that are thought to lie at the basis for being able to connect to the larger universe and provide meaning (Peterson & Seligman, 2004).

Character strengths are defined as the subset of personality traits, on which we place moral value and are psychological processes or mechanisms that constitute positive traits reflected in thoughts, feelings, and behaviors (Park, Peterson, & Seligman, 2004). For instance, introversion or extroversion might be seen as neutral concepts, but gratitude and fairness have a moral value, and can as such be called character strengths. Virtue and character are thus different from personality and temperament in that they have moral relevance. But like other personality traits, they presumably exist in degrees rather than either-or categories (Peterson, Park, & Seligman, 2005a).

Virtues and Character Strengths

1.Wisdom and knowledge
– creativity: thinking of novel and productive ways to conceptualize and do things
– curiosity: taking an interest in all of ongoing experience for its own sake, exploring and discovering
– judgment: being open-minded and thinking things through and examining them from all sides
– love of learning: mastering new skills, topics, and bodies of knowledge, to add systematically to what one knows
– perspective: being able to provide wise counsel to others

2. Courage
– honesty: speaking the truth and presenting oneself in a genuine way, being sincere and without pretense
– bravery: not shrinking from threat, challenge, difficulty, or pain, speaking up for what is right and act on conviction in the face of opposition
– persistence: finishing what one starts, persisting in a course of action in spite of obstacles
– zest: approaching life with excitement and energy, feeling alive and activated.

3. Humanity
– kindness: doing favors and good deeds for others, helping and taking care of others
– love: valuing close relations with others, sharing, caring and being close to other people
– social intelligence: being aware of the motives and feelings of oneself and others, knowing how to fit into different social situations.

4. Justice
– fairness: treating all people the same according to notions of fairness and justice, giving everyone a fair chance
– leadership: organizing group activities and seeing that they happen and at the same time maintain good relations within the group
– teamwork: working well as a member of a group or team, being loyal to the group and doing one’s share.

5. Temperance
– forgiveness: forgiving those that have done wrong, giving people a second chance and accept their shortcomings
– modesty: letting one’s accomplishments speak for themselves, avoiding the spotlight
– prudence: being careful about one’s choices; not saying or doing things that might later be regretted
– self-regulation: regulating what one feels and does, appetites and emotions, being disciplined.

6. Transcendence
– appreciation of beauty and excellence: noticing and appreciating beauty, excellence, and/or skilled performance in all domains of life
– gratitude: being aware of and thankful of the good things that happen, also expressing them
– hope: believing in a good future, expecting the best and working to achieve it
– humor: seeing the light side, liking to laugh and joke; bringing smiles to other people
– religiousness: having coherent beliefs about the higher purpose and meaning of life, also beliefs that shape conduct and provide comfort.

Studies that examine happiness, life satisfaction, and related concepts of well-being are some of the more popular areas of inquiry in positive psychology. Since the onset of positive psychology, researchers have been interested in those character strengths that correlate highest with happiness. Zest, hope, gratitude, love, and curiosity frequently emerge with the highest correlations with life satisfaction.

Teacher character is referring to the teacher’s personal distinctive qualities, which are significant of his/her, complex mental and ethical traits. Orlando (2013) listed nine characteristics of a great teacher:

A. A great teacher respects students. In a great teacher’s classroom, each person’s ideas and opinions are valued. Students feel safe to express their feelings and learn to respect and listen to others. This teacher creates a welcoming learning environment for all students.
B. A great teacher creates a sense of community and belonging in the classroom. The mutual respect in this teacher’s classroom provides a supportive, collaborative environment. In this small community, there are rules to follow and jobs to be done and each student is aware that he or she is an important, integral part of the group. A great teacher lets students know that they can depend not only on her but also on the entire class.
C. A great teacher is warm, accessible, enthusiastic and caring. This person is approachable, not only to students, but to everyone at school or on campus. This is the teacher to whom students know they can go with any problems or concerns or even to share a funny story. Great teachers possess good listening skills and take time out of their way-too-busy schedules for anyone who needs them. If this teacher is having a bad day, no one ever knows—the teacher leaves personal baggage outside the school doors.
D. A great teacher sets high expectations for all students. This teacher realizes that the expectations she has for her students greatly affect their achievement; she knows that students generally give to teachers as much or as little as is expected of them.
E. A great teacher has his own love of learning and inspires students with his passion for education and for the course material. He constantly renews himself as a professional on his quest to provide students with the highest quality of education possible. This teacher has no fear of learning new teaching strategies or incorporating new technologies into lessons, and always seems to be the one who is willing to share what he has learned with colleagues.
F. A great teacher is a skilled leader. Different from administrative leaders, effective teachers focus on shared decision-making and teamwork, as well as on community building. This great teacher conveys this sense of leadership to students by providing opportunities for each of them to assume leadership roles.
G. A great teacher can “shift-gears” and is flexible when a lesson is not working. This teacher assesses his teaching throughout the lessons and finds new ways to present material to make sure that every student understands the key concepts.
H. A great teacher collaborates with colleagues on an ongoing basis. Rather than thinking of herself as weak because she asks for suggestions or help, this teacher views collaboration as a way to learn from a fellow professional. A great teacher uses constructive criticism and advice as an opportunity to grow as an educator.
I. A great teacher maintains professionalism in all areas—from personal appearance to organizational skills and preparedness for each day. Her communication skills are exemplary, whether she is speaking with an administrator, one of her students or a colleague. The respect that the great teacher receives because of her professional manner is obvious to those around her.

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Love always,

Vassiliki xxxx