Sunday, April 27, 2014

Positive Psychology in Education by Danai Kirla - Report

Most of us teachers envisage how we could focus on the potential for the development of positive emotions among our students. Ms Danai Kirla an MSc Clinical Psychologist tried to help us achieve this during her session.

Ms Kirla initiated her speech by pointing out that positive emotions feel good and at the same time they have numerous benefits.The first of them is the investment in one’s future and the possibility of their transformation. How can it be achieved? By investing in activities that generate positive emotions. Then, the art of gratitude followed which is ideal  to teach the young and the vulnerable. Gratitude is about noticing what is right in your life and not about what is wrong. The technique for developing the art of gratitude is: ask your students to come up with three specific, good things in their lives. When they do, they can reflect on them at bedtime. The good things range from achievements and feelings to relationships and experience. Of course, it doesn’t matter if they are big or small. As to what young people,all of us should be grateful for Ms Kirla reminded to us health, home neighbourhood, family, friends, pets, people who support us, work, organizations which have helped us, a temperate climate…

Next, she explained what a crucial role resilience plays in moving on after a crisis. How can this be achieved? By being emotionally aware of oneself and capable of regulating one’s emotions, by controlling your impulses,by analyzing the causes of, e.g. trauma, by having empathy. Additionally, we can strengthen our students and our selves emotionally by simply being optimistic. A number of our students tend to avoid making efforts as a result of previous failure. There is an antidote to this and it’s called “learnt optimism”.

We all have character strengths. Let encourage our students to discover theirs. Why not create a positive relationship with our students by becoming closer to them? Ms Kirla rounded off  her speech by giving us two lists of tips, one for parents and one for teachers.


  • Find out about your students' strengths and weaknesses: have them depend more on their character strengths (for example, open-mindedness, creativity, novelty seeking, curiosity, zest, etc.) in the learning process.
  • Try to use positive language. Comment on the good more often than on the bad and teach your students new words and phrases for positive experiences they cannot still express.
  • Encourage! Congratulate the pupils on every little achievement, give plenty of positive reinforcement and create an atmosphere of positive feedback in the classroom.
  • Nurture the relationships between the students and explain the benefits of friendship and companionship. Try to include any peers that are left aside by stressing out their talents/charismas.
  • Don’t forget about the mind approach in teaching: adopt various physical/breathing exercises to introduce meditation to your students and discourage multitasking by giving distinct chores in certain time intervals.
  • Expand the positive social environment by exercising love, kindness, team work, fairness, just leadership, forgiveness, modesty and gratitude in your everyday educational routine.
  • Playfully use humor and do not hesitate to laugh along with your students!


  • Enhance positive experiences by reflecting on them afterwards. Explain what was good about this particular experience and ask for feedback.
  • Strengthen the power of positive emotions by verbalizing your emotional state. Psycho-educate your child with the meanings of positive words like awe, inspiration, joy, bliss, creativity, excitement, serenity, etc.
  • Practice the “art of gratitude”: teach your child to name 3 things he/she is grateful for in the past day/week. You can share this experience with the rest of the family at dinner time or you can instruct him/her to do so before going to bed.
  • Pay attention and savour every moment with your family. Don’t get distracted by the phone or the TV or the computer, don’t let any virtual reality get in the middle of your quality time with your children. Teach them to live in the moment and let yourself be spontaneous with them.
  • Share physical activities with your children and encourage them to be active and energetic. Take them for a walk in nature and play with them outdoors on a sunny day.
  • Get actively involved with parenthood, just enjoy it! 
TESOL MTh Northern Greece hopes that speech was as useful and inspiring as it was well-attended.

By Elsa Tsakiri

Interviewed by our Roving Reporter: Theodora Papapanagiotou

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