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

2 tips to stop negative thinking

Hello my friends!

What are the typical ways in which you respond to the triggers you experience? When faced with a difficult situation, emotion, or decision, do you get caught up in thoughts that seem to seize control of your mind—for example, anxious, fearful or angry thoughts?

1. The key to changing your negative thoughts is to understand how you think now (and the problems that result) and then use strategies to change thoughts or make them have less effect.

Here is a more detailed explanation of the A-B-Cs of the systematic-thought-evaluation process, which lies at the core of CBT:

A—activating event: This refers to the objective situation or external stimulus—the event, occurrence, or specific incident— that triggers a cognitive response in the first place.

B—cognitive response: This refers to how you interpret and come to some conclusion—thoughts often manifested in the form of self-talk—about that event. This necessarily is a reflection of your personal belief system and the particular habit patterns of thought you have adopted and use instinctively every day.

C—emotional reaction: This refers to the distressing feelings that the thoughts in B automatically generate.

Research shows that you can rewire your brain to your advantage. This will lessen the possibility of ever experiencing a serious depression, or, should you have a relapse from a current situation, the odds are favorable it will be less intense and of shorter duration. It also shows you can rewire your brain to recover from traumatic brain injuries of various kinds. This ongoing research falls under the promising new science called neuro-plasticity. Neuroplasticity – or brain plasticity – is the ability of the brain to modify its connections or re-wire itself. Without this ability, any brain, not just the human brain, would be unable to develop from infancy through to adulthood or recover from brain injury.

In Stronger, George S. Everly Jr., Douglas A. Strouse, and Dennis K. McCormack compare humans undergoing stress and experiencing resilience to a rubber ball: In order to make it bounce back, you must put it under great pressure. The greater the pressure, the higher the ball will bounce back. Now to be clear, it’s not the pressure itself that causes the ball to bounce, but the construction and attributes of the ball under pressure. It’s what the ball is made of that really matters. The pressure serves as a catalyst for the rebound. We are like that rubber ball. Our character and attributes—our mental and emotional construction—determine how quickly and easily we will bounce back when challenges apply pressure to our life. And, yes, we can bounce back. Research on resiliency concludes that each person has an innate capacity for resiliency, a self-righting tendency. This capacity operates best when we have resiliency-building conditions in our life, but everyone, even those who grew up with hardships or who have dealt with prolonged or recurring stress, can harness their ability to bounce back.

One strategy that can help improve your outlook is to remind yourself of other challenges you’ve already faced and overcome. Writing down what you’ve learned about yourself from previous, difficult experiences, for example, how you’ve grown or what you’ve accomplished since, or perhaps even because of, a life crisis will empower you with belief that you can triumph in the face of adversity.  Thought diaries help you to identify your negative thinking styles and gain better understanding of how your thoughts (and not the situations you are in) cause your emotional reactions.

2. Learning to manage emotions and choose your thoughts through techniques such as yoga or meditation or by practicing mindfulness will empower you to maintain the perspective that you can survive or overcome. Research from Prof. Mark Williams from Oxford University showed that when difficulties arise in life many of us tend to get caught up in excessive unhelpful thinking. Sometimes people try to stop constant unhelpful thinking but we don’t have to try to stop our thoughts. A more effective way to ease all that internal noise, Prof. Williams teaches, is to pay attention to our direct sensory experience. In this way there’s simply little to no room left in our attention for all that excessive thinking. Coming to our senses calms the mind and grounds us in the present moment. To do this simply redirect your attention out of the thoughts in your head and bring your focus to your sense perceptions. Whether you’re in your home, at the office, in the park or on a subway, notice everything around you. Use your senses to their fullest. Don’t get into a mental dialogue about the things you see, just be aware of what you’re experiencing in this moment. Be aware of the sounds, the scents or the sensation of the air on your skin.

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This website is about you and your emotional wellbeing – a place for peace and happiness.

All my mandala stones, wooden pebbles and bookmarks are stress relieving because they can be used as a focus for meditation. They always have a circular nature and offer balancing symmetrical elements and images symbolizing harmony and completion. These mandala stones, pebbles and bookmarks will help promote mindfulness, focus attention and emotional wellbeing.

Select a mandala stone, a mandala wooden pebble or a mandala wooden disc that appeal to you. Focus on the mandala and let it absorb all of your attention and RELAX. Take a few moments to breath deeply. Meditate on the circle and connect with your inner self.

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

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Best wishes,

Vassiliki Plomaritou

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

 

Stress Resilience

Hello my friends,

“The book of joy” is a wonderful, uplifting and inspirational book by two special people Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu. I want to share with you the following excerpt:

“Psychologist Elissa Epel is one of the leading researchers on stress, and she explained to me how stress is supposed to work. Our stress response evolved to save us from attack or danger, like a hungry lion or a falling avalanche. Cortisol and adrenalin course into our blood. This causes our pupils to dilate so we can see more clearly, our heart and breathing to speed up so we can respond faster, and the blood to divert from our organs to our large muscles so we can fight or flee. This stress response evolved as a rare and temporary experience, but for many in our modern world, it is constantly activated. Epel and her colleague, Nobel Prize–winning molecular biologist Elizabeth Blackburn, have found that constant stress actually wears down our telomeres, the caps on our DNA that protect our cells from illness and aging. It is not just stress but our thought patterns in general that impact our telomeres, which has led Epel and Blackburn to conclude that our cells are actually “listening to our thoughts.” The problem is not the existence of stressors, which cannot be avoided; stress is simply the brain’s way of signaling that something is important. The problem—or perhaps the opportunity—is how we respond to this stress. Epel and Blackburn explain that it is not the stress alone that damages our telomeres. It is our response to the stress that is most important. They encourage us to develop stress resilience. This involves turning what is called “threat stress,” or the perception that a stressful event is a threat that will harm us, into what is called “challenge stress,” or the perception that a stressful event is a challenge that will help us grow.

The remedy they offer is quite straightforward. One simply notices the fight-or-flight stress response in one’s body—the beating heart, the pulsing blood or tingling feeling in our hands and face, the rapid breathing—then remembers that these are natural responses to stress and that our body is just preparing to rise to the challenge”.

Love always,

Vassiliki  xxxx