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

WHAT MAKES GREAT TEACHING?

Hello my friends!

Teacher quality is what teachers know and bring to the classroom. Teaching quality is what teachers do with what they know once they get inside the classroom. It includes the strategies and techniques teachers use to get students to learn. These strategies include understanding and applying the evidence on how students learn, using instructional best practices, enhancing strategies for instructional observation and evaluation, providing effective and ongoing professional development and establishing a common vision for philosophical beliefs about students and teaching (Kaplan & Owings, 2002).

There are many variables that affect instruction including the subject, grade level, learners’ needs and desired outcomes. Effective instruction promotes excellence and student learning outcomes through best-practices and teaching practices based on high standards of instruction and student engagement.  It includes elements such as effective questioning and use of assessment by teachers. Students’ perceptions of their learning environment influence their approaches to learning (Ramsden, 2003). For instance, they are more likely to demonstrate deep approaches to learning when they perceive that teaching is high quality, they have some voice in what is to be learned, and they are aware of the goals and standards required in the unit. Specific practices, like reviewing previous learning, providing model responses for students, giving adequate time for practice to embed skills securely and progressively introducing new learning (scaffolding) are also elements of high quality instruction.
Effective teaching practices need to occur in physically and psychologically safe climates. A safe learning environment is the keystone for learning. Effective teachers create physically and emotionally safe learning environments in which students can take academic risks, make mistakes, obtain feedback and revise their initial ideas and understandings (Kaplan & Owings, 2002).

The positive effects of high quality teaching are especially significant for students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Evidence suggests that when taught by very effective teachers, students can gain an extra year’s worth of learning (Hanushek, 1992, Sutton trust, 2011). Research evidence from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development affirms that “teacher quality” is the most important school variable influencing student achievement (2005).

According to Christopher Day and Qing Gu in their book Resilient Teachers, Resilient Schools, Building and Sustaining Quality in Testing Times, the definition of quality in teachers should be understood in the broadest possible sense. It goes beyond the technocratic concerns for performativity and test results. The continuing aspiration for quality is driven by teachers’ sense of vocation and care about and for their pupils. It is about the extra mile that the best teachers willingly travel to motivate each one of their pupils to learn and to bring about the best possible achievement in them. It is related to their passion, commitment and continuing enthusiasm for their own learning and development which is importantly supported by their school and which results in an abiding sense of efficacy, hope and belief that they can and do continue to make a difference in the classroom.

Thank you very much for reading!

Love always,

Vassiliki xxxx

 

16 Practical Ideas for students with ADD

Hello my friends!

Thank you very much for your kind emails!!! After twenty years in education (with students who experience dyslexia, reading, spelling, handwriting difficulties, ADD) and counselling, I know that teachers and other educators are VERY BUSY people with many responsibilities. Many teachers emphasized the need for practical ideas easy to implement in the classroom and not overly time consuming.

These practical ideas are for students who have attention disorder difficulties that interfere with their ability to learn:

Discuss the issues involved with your colleagues and ensure that in general you have got their support for the approach to ADD that you are adopting.

Seat the student away from windows and put the student right in front of your desk.

Develop an two-way agreement in the form of a Contract. A two-way agreement specifies precisely how a student will behave or what task the student will accomplish. It also specifies what support a teacher or administrator will provide in order to assist the student in meeting his/her goals. Ask the student to select a reinforcer that he or she would like to earn if the criterion of the agreement is met. Once the student meets the criterion immediately provide the reinforcer. Each week this Contract need to be reviewed. It may be necessary to modify the requirements made in the Contract.

Some students with ADD may need school accommodations. Some accommodations include extended time on tests, shortened assignments, note taking. Provide worksheets with fewer questions and problems. Break long assignments into smaller chunks and do not grade for neatness.

Use timers or verbal cues to show how much time the student has remaining for an activity.

Students with ADD can learn better by listening. You can provide help for students by reading aloud to them or letting them work with partners or in a group.

Keep your instructions simple.

Do everything possible to avoid background noise while working on language activities. Do everything possible to avoid interrupting. Listen intently and show that you have heard and understood. Encourage your student to complete the task and give lots of praise.

Allow student frequent physical breaks to move around, to hand out or collect materials, run errands to the office, erase the board, etc.

Always begin the question with a student’s name. This focuses the student’s attention before you ask the question and keeps him or her “with you”.

Ask both open-ended and specific types of questions.

When a student makes a correct statement students say “Good job.” If the answer is incorrect, someone says “Good try! or Nice try! or You can do it!”

Use a token system to make sure everyone takes a turn answering your questions and no one monopolizes the conversation.

Students with ADD often have poor short-term memories. Strategies can be taught to improve short-term memory and increase concentration span for example, self-discovery techniques or memory aid systems for remembering specific items.

Teach students to organize their materials. Have students color code by choosing one color per subject. Or suggest that students buy Post It flags in each subject color. Graphic organizers can help all students take a step-by-step approach to solving problems and memorizing information. These organizers can be used to solve math problems, arrange historical events in chronological order or complete any sequence of important facts.

It is very helpful if you can give the attention deficit student some responsibilities which that student will manage to achieve. It helps the child improve self-esteem and gain greater understanding of the sequences of cause and effect.

ADD is unrelated to intelligence.

When these strategies are applied more regularly in the classroom, they will benefit not only students with ADD but the entire learning environment.

Love always,

Vassiliki xxxx

The positive side of negative emotions

Hello my friends!

Emotions can influence behavior, but they have other implications, as well. One important function of emotion is to provide information (Schwarz & Clore, 1983). Emotion regulation is driven by epistemic motives when people are motivated to experience emotions to attain certain information. Emotions provide information about oneself and about the world. People are motivated to attain two different types of information about themselves. First, given the need for positive self-regard, people seek out information that enhances their self-images (Rogers, 1951). Second, given the need for consistency and predictability, people seek out information that verifies their self-images (Seann, 1987). When emotional experiences reflect negatively on themselves, people may be motivated to avoid these experiences.

Emotional acceptance refers to the willingness and ability to accept and experience the negative emotion, to acknowledge and absorb it. Acceptance offers several advantages. By accepting your emotions, you are accepting the truth of your situation.

We’re living in a “cultural age that’s decidedly pro-positivity,” MacLellan writes, which makes the “pressure to suppress or camouflage negative feelings” all the more pronounced. In the West (especially in the U.S.) “happiness and positivity are seen as virtues,” MacLellan notes. Anger, fear, resentment, frustration, and anxiety are emotional states that many people experience regularly but try to avoid. And this is understandable—they are designed to make us uncomfortable. These negative emotional states can create extra stress in your body and your mind, which is uncomfortable but also can lead to health issues if the stress becomes chronic or overwhelming. Managing negative emotions means not allowing them to overrun us; we can keep them under control without denying that we are feeling them. A study on emotional acceptance, from the University of California, Berkeley, found that putting pressure on yourself to feel upbeat when you are actually feeling downtrodden or dejected can take a psychological toll. The latest UC Berkeley study reaffirms the benefits of this explanatory style. The researchers found that accepting negative emotions or thoughts in the moment helps individuals avoid catastrophizing or dwelling on temporary negative mental experiences. Research has suggested that acceptance  whether it is embracing our good and bad attributes, or accepting the way we look – is associated with better psychological well-being.

Prof. Ford and team sought to determine how acceptance of negative emotions – such as sadness, disappointment, and anger – might influence psychological health. Accepting negative emotions without judging or trying to change them helps people cope more effectively with various types of stress. Negative emotions serve a purpose and have a positive intention. As Ford explains, “acceptance involves not trying to change how we are feeling, but staying in touch with your feelings and taking them for what they are.”

Iris Mauss, an associate professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley and director of the Emotion and Emotion Regulation Lab said: “We found that people who habitually accept their negative emotions experience fewer negative emotions, which adds up to better psychological health. Maybe if you have an accepting attitude toward negative emotions, you’re not giving them as much attention. And perhaps, if you’re constantly judging your emotions, the negativity can pile up.”
The researchers found that subjects who reported trying to avoid negative emotions in response to bad experiences were more likely to have symptoms of mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression, 6 months later, compared with those who embraced their negative emotions.

Dr. Ronald Siegel, another psychologist with Harvard Medical School, he discusses proven strategies for cultivating mindfulness and self compassion. He share this insight:
“When we are hurting, when we notice that we’ve had a disappointment, we’ve had a failure, something hasn’t turned out well, which [it] inevitably will. Inevitably, we’ll have these moment of defeat, that we can just be nice to ourselves and give ourselves a hug, feel the feeling of vulnerability, feel the feeling of failure, and trust that that’s okay too, that it’s just part of the cycle and we don’t have to identify with that or believe in it. Because as it turns out, none of us are so great and none of us are so terrible.”

There are several strategies that have been explored and recommended as a means to accepting and processing negative emotions:

Observe your emotions. Remember, you are not your emotions, you are the watcher of your emotions (Tolle, 2010).

Label the emotion you are experiencing.

Acceptance increases your own self-compassion and tolerance for frustration (by Practicing Mindfulness). Feeling with non-judgment and non reaction is healing and a necessary part of the self-growth process.

Re-appraise and re-frame.

Choose your action.

Thank you for reading.

Love always,

Vassiliki xxxx

 

Teacher Stress

Hello my friends!

The National Union of Teachers (UK) indicates the ways in which stress manifests itself:

“The effects of stress can be manifested in many different ways including physical effects such as raised heart rate, headache, dizziness, palpitations, skin rashes, aching neck and shoulders and lowering of resistance to infection. Over a long period stress may contribute to chronic health problems such as heart disease and stomach ulcers. Various psychological and behavioural changes affecting work performance and interpersonal relationships may also be noticed by stressed individuals’ colleagues, including inability to concentrate, overworking, irritability or aggression, becoming withdrawn or unsociable, or reluctance to accept constructive criticism and advice”.

The main causes of stress in the workplace:

Balancing multiple demands

Work overload

Lack of time

Inadequate resources

Inadequate administrative support

Inclusive classes

Student misbehaviour

On-going changes

Inadequate professional development

Teaching unions are warning of an “epidemic of stress” as research revealed that 3.750 teachers were signed off on long term sick leave last year because of pressure of work, anxiety and mental illness (The Guardian, 2018).

Dr Mary Bousted joint general secretary of the National Education Union, warned of an “epidemic stress”: “Teachers work more unpaid overtime than any other profession. Classroom teachers routinely work 55 hours or over a week. School leaders routinely work over 60 hours a week”. She added that schools had been bombarded with constant changes to the curriculum and assessment regimes. “It has been a relentless policy onslaught which has left teachers rocking from stress and exhaustion” (Guardian, 2018).

Emma Mamo, head of workplace wellbeing at Mind, said the onus was on employers to support staff. “In small doses, stress can be a good thing, helping us focus and meet deadlines”, she said. “But prolonged exposure to stress, day in, day out, can lead to serious physical and mental health problems”.

What can be done to reduce teacher stress?

School leaders can help reduce teacher stress by cultivating working conditions that support teachers. The working conditions that lead to the most job satisfaction involve administrative and collegial support. Schools can also help reduce teacher stress by promoting effective teacher-student interactions. One way to accomplish this is by using strategies that reward positive student behaviours. Teachers in schools with that utilize positive strategies on a schoolwide basis to support behavior experience significantly lower levels of burnout. A comprehensive self-care plan may help teachers identify signs of stress and improve their stress management skills (The Conversation).

Are you stressed out? Do you feel trapped by your schedule? Do you feel exhausted? Are you constantly involved in power struggles with some students? Is there a lack of encouragement or practical support from colleagues?
This complete teacher emotional resilience course will show you exactly:
●How to enhance your self-awareness.
●How to dissolve negative emotions and irrational thinking patterns.
●How does self -talk affect your emotions.
●How to better manage stress and avoid burn out.
●How to manage your anger so you can relieve inner stress and experience more peace, better relationships and better health.

●How to manage your time.

Teacher Emotional Resilience Course includes:
– 6 videos
– 31 power point presentations with powerful relaxation techniques that teach you step by step how to relax in 5 or 10 minutes
– self-awareness questions
– emotional resilience and mindfulness exercises, worksheets
– certificate of completion.
Who is the Target Audience?
Anyone feeling stressed and overwhelmed at school or at home. Teacher Emotional Resilience Course is suitable for all school staff, teachers, teaching assistants, special needs teachers, school volunteers.
Live more peacefully by enrolling today!

Enroll in Course

https://teacher-emotional-resilience.thinkific.com

Best wishes,

Vassiliki Plomaritou

MA(Ed), BA (Hons), Adv.D.Sp.Ed., PGCert.Sp.Ed., Adv.D.C.S., CertCBT, S.A.C.Cert.

 

The Effective Teacher

Hello my friends!

I just finished a wonderful book: 12 characteristics of an effective teacher by Robert J. Walker. Inspirational Stories of Teachers Who inspired Others to Become Teachers. I would like to share with you an amazing story which made me cry!

I love you by Angela Rembert.

“The teacher who had the most profound positive effect on my life was my sixth grade teacher, Mrs Beatrice Marsh at North Birmingham Elementary School. She possessed several characteristics that made her the epitome of an effective classroom teacher. Each morning she would begin her class with a personal experience about her education. She had the ability to create an atmosphere in her classroom that made her students eager to learn.

I often reflect on the words Mrs Marsh would say to us at the end of each school day, ” If nobody has told you I love you today…I do!” Those words made the difference in my attitude and my determination to make the teacher I idolized proud”.

What a wonderful story!

Love always,

Vassiliki  xxxx

Want a young child to “help” or to “be a helper”? Word Choice Matters.

My dearest friends, hello!

Can a subtle linguistic cue that invokes the self motivate children to help? In two experiments, 3- to 6-year-old children (N = 149) were exposed to the idea of “being a helper” (noun condition) or “helping” (verb condition). Noun wording fosters the perception that a behavior reflects an identity-the kind of person one is. Both when children interacted with an adult who referenced “being a helper” or “helping” () and with a new adult (), children in the noun condition helped significantly more across four tasks than children in the verb condition or a baseline control condition. The results demonstrate that children are motivated to pursue a positive identity. Moreover, this motivation can be leveraged to encourage prosocial behavior.
The study, by researchers at the University of California, San Diego, the University of Washington and Stanford University, appears in the journal Child Development. The researchers carried out two experiments with about 150 children aged 3 to 6 from a variety of ethnic and racial backgrounds who came from middle- to upper-middle-class homes. In both experiments, an adult experimenter began by talking to children about helping. The only difference between the two studies was that in one, helping was referred to with a verb (e.g., “Some children choose to help”), while in the other, it was referred to with a noun (e.g., “Some children choose to be helpers”). Then the children began playing with toys. While they were playing, the adult provided four opportunities for the youngsters to stop and help the experimenter – to pick up a mess, open a container, put away toys, and pick up crayons that had spilled on the floor. In each case, the children had to stop playing to help.
Children who heard the noun wording (helper) helped significantly more than children who heard the verb wording (help). When the experimenter talked to youngsters about helping, using verb wording, the children didn’t help any more than when the experimenter never brought up helping at all.
“These findings suggest that parents and teachers can encourage young children to be more helpful by using nouns like helper instead of verbs like helping when making a request of a child,” said Christopher J. Bryan, assistant professor of psychology at UC San Diego, who worked on the study. “Using the noun helper may send a signal that helping implies something positive about one’s identity, which may in turn motivate children to help more.”

Love always,
Vassiliki  xxxx