CoverIntroductionWellbeing and Its Importance in SchoolsWhat models/frameworks exist to promote school wellbeing?What is the best approach for my school or district?Valuable Tools and ConsiderationYour Call to ActionStudent Wellbeing InterventionsPositive Emotion Three Good ThingsCounting BlessingsEnvisioning Your Best Possible SelfUnderstanding HumorThree Funny ThingsOutdoor LearningBringing the Outside InBibliotherapyEngagementRecognizing and Utilizing Personal StrengthsARCS Model of CuriosityCarousel BrainstormingGenius HourPerspective Taking and Role-PlayArts IntegrationDrawing and Coloring TherapyCulturally-Enriching and Arts-Based Field TripsCulturally Responsive PracticesSocial Belonging InterventionEmotional Self-Regulation: RULER methodModeling Emotional Self-Regulation SkillsTeacher PraiseRelationshipsModeling Love, Kindness and ForgivenessActive Constructive RespondingDialogue JournalsSecret Strengths SpottingPeer Praise NotesActs of KindnessVolunteeringFast FriendsBuddy BenchMeaningEducating Students about Benefit AppraisalsGratitude LettersSavoring StrategiesTaking in the Good (HEAL)Mental Time TravelBrief Mindfulness ActivitiesMindful BellMindful BreathingBody Scan RelaxationMindful Walking/MovementFive Senses MindfulnessMindful PhotographyMindful Self-CompassionAccomplishmentFuture Thinking & When/Where PlansHope MapG-POWER Goal SettingEmbedded Self-Regulation StrategiesGrowth MindsetGrit and Deliberate PracticeDeveloping Students' Resilience and Coping SkillsHealth and VitalityHealthy Sleep HabitsClassroom Physical ActivityYogaCreative Playground EquipmentHealthy Body Image InterventionStudent-Led Health ProgramSchool-Led Interventions for Teachers and StaffSupporting Teacher AutonomyMindfulness TrainingCompassion TrainingHumor TrainingIncentivizing Physical ExerciseIndividual Interventions for Administrators, Teachers and StaffPositive and Reflective JournalingSelf-Regulation and Coping StrategiesSelf-AffirmationSelf Compassion LetterDiscovering and Utilizing Character StrengthsJob CraftingMindfulnessAdditional Interventions to ConsiderDedicated Wellbeing SpacesIndividual Wellbeing Plans for School EmployeesOther ResourcesPROSPER

Wellbeing and Its Importance in Schools

In order to improve the mental, emotional, and social wellbeing of children and adults, understanding what makes us happy and successful has become an important focus of recent psychological research. Wellbeing science has emerged in the past few decades, providing us with empirical evidence about the conditions needed to flourish and thrive in the face of adversity (Seligman, 2011). Wellbeing has been defined as “the combination of feeling good and functioning effectively”(Huppert & So, 2011, p. 838). Martin Seligman, the father of modern positive psychology, found that those who flourish have lives rich with Positive Emotion, Engagement, Positive Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment, or PERMA (Seligman, 2011). The PERMA model has been updated to PERMAH, including a section on Health/Vitality (Kern, in press). Many interventions have been developed to improve wellbeing in each of these categories and will be expounded upon hereafter in this resource. However, while traditional psychotherapy interventions focus primarily on relieving suffering, positive psychology interventions take it one step further. The field of positive psychology seeks not only to help those who flounder to function better, but also to help those who flounder and function to flourish and thrive.

With anxiety and depression levels on the rise in our schools among both students and staff, it is important to incorporate the principles of positive psychology in our classrooms to provide our schools with opportunities to improve their psychological and social wellbeing (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention[CDC], n.d.). While some may argue that wellbeing interventions take away from valuable teaching time, the implementation of school wellbeing programs actually improve standardized test scores and academic performance (Adler, 2016). Additional studies have found that higher wellbeing is linked to higher attendance rates, higher grades, and better self control (Suldo, Thalji & Ferron, 2011; Howell, 2009). 

Wellbeing interventions are equally important for teachers and other staff members. Teaching has developed globally as one of the most high stress professions, with high levels of burnout and teacher attrition (Learning Policy Institute, 2017; Stoeber & Rennert, 2008). Some studies have found that as many as 50% of teachers leave the profession within their first five years of teaching (Ingersoll, Merrill & Stuckey, 2014). Poor work-life balance, emotional exhaustion, little administrative support, and lack of autonomy, among other factors, contribute to lower wellbeing and enjoyment at work (Falecki & Mann, 2021; Seldon, 2018). Additionally, teacher wellbeing is directly linked to student wellbeing (Roffrey, 2012; Klusmann et al., 2016; McCallum & Price, 2010). If our teachers are unhappy, this will have a trickle-down effect to our students (Roffrey, 2012). Luckily, many studies of positive psychology-based interventions have been shown to improve teacher wellbeing, thereby improving teacher job satisfaction, stress levels and effectiveness (Falecki & Mann, 2021; Cameron, 2012; Dutton, 2003; Buckingham & Clifton, 2001). 

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