As you might have gathered from posts such as Elevating Greatness, Learning Life Lessons from Books, and the title of our forthcoming book from Stenhouse, Reading Wellness, understanding how to live happy, well-balanced, fulfilling lives is an important theme for us. Looking to enrich both our personal and professional lives, we are always reading, listening to, or watching something that will help inform our understanding of wellness. Recently, we’ve been reading The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. In this book, Achor popularizes some of the research behind positive psychology and offers readers seven principles aimed at helping them feel happier and more successful:
- The Happiness Advantage: Instead of looking for and illuminating what is wrong or bad, look for the positive and you will see your productivity and performance improve.
- The Fulcrum and Lever: Our reality is relative (as opposed to fixed). Shifting our mindset about our reality can empower us to feel happier which brings greater success.
- The Tetris Effect: By focusing on the positive, we enable ourselves to see and seize opportunity.
- Falling Up: When things are hard or bad, look for the mental path that leads you up and away from your suffering.
- The Zorro Circle: In order to regain control, focus on small, manageable goals. When those goals are accomplished, seek to incrementally increase the size of your goals to make them easier to attain.
- The 20 Second Rule: If you really want to change something, place reminders in your daily path so that you remember to expend the energy required to change it.
- Social Investments: Taking time to nurture relationships with friends, peers, and family creates a support network that helps you feel happier and leads to increased success.
As we read this book, and others like it, we often find ourselves nodding in agreement, saying, “Yep, we knew that.” However, this thought is countered with a somewhat disturbing realization: Even though we know it, it doesn’t mean we do it.
We began to think about how this applies to the classroom—what is it that we know but don’t do or perhaps don’t do as much as we would like? While different for everyone, this list might include things like:
- Independent reading
- Read aloud
- Individual conferences with kids about their reading and writing
- Anecdotal records
- Idea exchanges with colleagues
- Small group instruction
- Opportunities for students to talk about the books they’re reading
- Interactive writing
- Etc., etc., etc.
In his chapter about the 20-second rule, Achor aptly reminds us that “Common sense is not common practice” but adds that by placing things within our path of least resistance, we can easily change this reality. So, for example, if we wanted to read aloud more often, we might place our selection on the chalk tray and announce to students a specific time when we will read it. If we want to be more vigilant about taking anecdotal records, we might strategically place clipboards filled with record keeping forms in multiples spots around the classroom. The trick to translating common sense to common practice is intention which leaves us asking you, what small change can you make that could have a big impact on some aspect of either your professional or personal wellness?