What if I told you that using one of your Signature Character Strengths would add joy to your day? I know, maybe you don’t think you have time for such frivolities, but seriously, when was the last time you and your students had a joyful hour? Why might joy be an objective, you ask? There is research that suggests that mood and affect impact learning, and you can read about how to implement joy in your classroom here.
One of my top strengths, in fact, my very top strength, according to the Via Character Strengths Survey, is creativity. When I think of new ways to do something in the classroom, I am energized and excited, instead of bogged down and overwhelmed. Last Wednesday, I set out to teach my 5th graders about the VIA 24 character strengths. Instead of standing and talking for 10 minutes, I showed a quick video about the Science of Character, and then randomly assigned students to groups. Their assignment was to teach their 6 strengths to the class, giving a real life example. Creative, not really, but a start. A hand shot up, “Ms. Young, can we do skits?” Of course, my controlling teacher self imagined all of the chaos that would ensue, yet my creative, playful self was thrilled. “Of course!” I replied, and for the rest of the class period, my 5th graders were abuzz, creating their most clever skits to perform next class. I realized, in the moment, that I was caught up in the excitement, and shared at the end of class how much I enjoyed their creativity and enthusiasm. I shared how their creativity ignited joy in me, and they left the room smiling and saying: “Wait, our class is over?” I was thrilled that this upbeat mood stayed with me for the rest of the day, and benefitted all who crossed my path.
Of course, this is only one small example of how using strengths is energizing and inspiring. I challenge you to think back over your past couple weeks, and remember a time in the classroom where you were excited, energized, and your students were as well. As you review the story, think about what strengths may have been in action. Please take a moment to share your experience in the comments below!