As I head to the FOBISIA Conference in Thailand I reflect on the fact that I have been writing my first ever book chapter on the integration of coaching and positive psychology in schools. On the one hand this has been a real challenge and on the other it is the most exciting and amazing opportunity! It has been a great test of my own character strengths but also good to reflect on how we are equipping young people these days to make the transition into healthy, happy and virtuous citizens when there is a continued rise in mental health problems and so many shocking things happening around the world.
I have undoubtedly drawn on my top strengths of gratitude, hope, curiosity, teamwork and zest! I have needed that vitality in the early morning writing sessions before the rest of the day starts – but we know that working to our signature strengths gives us energy so that is all good. I have certainly had to draw upon some of my lesser strengths, particularly perseverance, bravery and self-regulation. It has not been easy when the doubt kicks in and the need to be really self-disciplined becomes essential to success!
What has been most inspiring and encouraging though, next to the support I have received from my co-author and editor, is the stories I can tell about how character strengths are being applied with children and young people in schools as part of Positive Education programs. Just last week I was with a large international school in China introducing character strengths to Y12 and Y13 students and their teachers. This week I am off to another leading international school in Thailand working with their whole Y8 community – students, teachers and parents! We are now integrating peer coaching conversations into these programs so students and teachers can support the ongoing application of strengths in support of both academic and personal goals. This coming weekend I am also getting to share some of my work at the Federation of British International Schools Heads Conference in Bangkok which is very exciting!
There is an increasing belief from the world’s leading education researchers and practitioners that schools have a duty to develop both the skills of well-being and achievement in young people. The numerous evidence-based projects that that I have been involved in the state and independent school sectors and universities both here in Australia and overseas have helped to introduce the language of character strengths to leaders, educators and students. Character is what builds well-being, resilience, mental toughness and the psychological capital we all need to flourish in the world despite the challenges, uncertainties and fears it throws our way. Through strengths discovery and coaching we are making a difference to the lives of young people today and in to the future as they go into higher education, work and adulthood. Now that is worth writing about!
For more information on the Values in Action Character Strengths Survey visit www.viacharacter.org For more information on Coaching and Positive Education visit my Education Page
Photo courtesy of VIA Character Institute