Over the last year or so I have been continuing to introduce the idea of ‘Positive Education’ in schools across Asia including China, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and Hong Kong. Positive Education focuses on enhancing academic achievement alongside well-being and character within school communities. I have been getting some great feedback regarding my own interventions within school leaders, teachers, students and parents for which I am very grateful.
However what is even more important is the mounting evidence that the ideas around the application of positive psychology, mental tougheness and coaching that I have been introducing are being rolled out by teachers, students and parents for the benefit of their own well-being and engagement and that of their wider school communities! This is really fantastic to see and hear about and makes all my own work and efforts so worthwhile. Some links to the recent feedback on the roll out of activities are embedded below.
Examples include the British International School Shanghai – Puxi Campus where I have worked with a wide cross section of the school community and ongoing activities now include work on parent coaching, student peer coaching and mental toughness. See an update on the roll out of this work here. BISS Puxi are such a great example of harnessing the positive energy and commitment of their community to embed well-being throughout the school.
Earlier this year I worked with the Senior Leadership Teams of two sister schools in Ho Chi Minh where we initially explored well-being and engagement and the role of Positive Education in creating flourishing school communities. This work has since been rolled out at both the British International School and the British Vietnamese International School where we have been exploring mindfulness, mental toughness, strengths-based approaches and coaching conversations with the Y12&13 ‘A’Level and IB communities, including heads of year and pastoral support and parents. Most touching was feedback I received from individual students (see the above BVIS link) and the comment below telling me how much they got from the sessions I facilitated.
“As I was waiting for the Mental Toughness workshop to begin, my mind was already preoccupied: what homework did I have that was due soon? When is my next rehearsal? I’m missing my Chemistry lesson right now! But as soon as Mr Clive Leach started speaking, he had my full attention. “Positive Psychology”? “Mental Toughness”? I was curious as to how I could achieve these things. He asked us about our strengths and about the moments when we felt we were at our very best. I was expecting him to ask us about our weaknesses and flaws as well, but the key to “Mental Toughness”, he disclosed, is to focus on the abundant positive elements within our lives that are constantly overshadowed by the shroud of negative thoughts, as we tend to focus more of our attention on what is going wrong in our lives that we disregard the successes we have achieved. Finding a purpose that matches your passions; developing and balancing your strengths, setting targets… That’s how we achieve a “Positive Mind-set”. Furthermore, Mr Leach inspired us to be more “mindful” of both ourselves and the people we care about, to always be supportive in lending an ear but also to be comfortable in sharing our own struggles and successes. It seemed so simple and obvious, yet those words were immensely impactful towards me as it bolstered my motivation to “flourish” both academically and personally. Needless to say, I left the workshops powered by this new, positive energy. I am certain that the application of this mind-set will not only aid me in the process of my academic growth, but also help me flourish as a person and a global citizen.” Lan Anh Dinh Y12
Whilst in Vietnam I was privileged to be asked to present a 2 hour workshop at The FOBISIA Student Leadership Conference where we were able to help 57 international student delegates from 19 schools all over Asia to consider the importance of well-being and flourishing in the context of ethical leadership and decision-making. I had some great feedback from students from some of it captured in the top image above! I have heard that students have since taken some of the ideas I shared at the conference and have already started to introduce them within their own school communities!
Following my opportunity earlier in the year to explore well-being, engagement, coaching and Positive Education with the Senior Leadership Team At the The Taipei European School in Taiwan, I was delighted to return again in August to work with the whole secondary school faculty to explore similar ideas and the potential to support both staff and student well-being. Despite the aftermath of Typhoon Soudelor the commitment, resilience and engagement of everyone involved was outstanding and Deputy Head Sonya Papps gave the following feedback:
‘Thank you ever so much for your work with us last week. The response has been absolutely unequivocal, with staff members saying your talk was inspiring. The well-being measures we have introduced so far have been met with excited appreciation – we obviously timed this focus area perfectly. Staff are ready for it and very much wanting to weave a PERMA model throughout school life.’
Lastly at Bangkok Patana International School in Thailand we have recently rolled out the third year of a project introducing character strengths to the Y8 community, including students, teachers and parents. This work has seen the integration of character strengths into a wide range of curricula and extra-curricula activity and within the pastoral programs across Ys 8, 9 and now 10 as the students move up through the school.
So all in all it has been a very busy and successful year for me in the Positive Education field. I am also very grateful to be able bring my experience from working as a coach and facilitator in the government, corporate and career transition sectors in to the education space because this is what schools are equipping young people for – to go out in to the world of work pro-actively seeking challenges and opportunities, overcome the inevitable obstacles and setbacks they will face and to ultimately flourish as adults both professionally and personally!