Don’t worry be happy is a fine song title, but can life essential happiness be taught? Some think so. And happiness as a life essential can also be transferred onto others. In terms of education, a happy teacher can make for happy students.
And studies show that happiness quickly spreads.
“Happiness is contagious, spreading among friends, neighbors, siblings and spouses like the flu,” according to a 20-year study of more than 4,700 people that, for the first time, shows how emotion can ripple through clusters of people who may not even know each other.”
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In a new online course, teachers will read and view research that confirms the importance of developing certain skills and practices to bring about happiness. Following directed practice activities they will engage in a positive attitude and lifestyle that can serve as a model for their students.
The online course is one of a seven-part series focused on teaching basic life essentials, including compassion, curiosity, resilience, growth mindset, inspiration and tolerance to promote optimum teacher and student wellness.
As the syllabus states: “With the guidance of the courses in this series, you can take your teaching to a new level; one that brings the highest degree of satisfaction to yourself and your students. Great teachers are remembered not for the knowledge they impart but for the way they encourage and lift their students’ achievement, not just in a subject, but in the important skills of living a fulfilling life.”
Happiness can be an essential part of classroom management, particularly in regards to keeping composure and control during challenging classroom management moments.
The life essentials course teaches these skills via a series of exercises intended to teach teachers how to see themselves as their students see them.
Some of these exercises include keeping a “Positive Comments Journal” to track feelings and thoughts about the day and developing skill.
According to the course instructor Kathy Vining, the objective is to see yourself as your students see you.
Teachers are also asked to practice greeting students as they look into a mirror. This includes studying and adjusting facial and body language to correspond in a natural cheerful way with positive and encouraging words.
The Dominican University online course (EDUO 9756) is about self-reflection, according to Vining.
Happy teachers show students that it is ok to make mistakes, instilling confidence through example.
That is why the course first focuses on teacher life essentials. Patterns and behaviors are hard to pass on unless one knows them first.
In one exercise, teachers must imagine that a local newspaper has written a story about their class and the main reason that the students are so happy. The thrust of the article is that the students are not afraid to make a mistake.
The syllabus states: “They are not afraid because you have made it ok through the playful way you have acknowledged your own mistakes. Write the article that appeared in the newspaper. Have fun with this fantasy assignment. Be imaginative, creative and inspirational.”