Help Your Students Experience Happiness with the Six Sustainable Happiness Skills
Studies show that more than half of students are stressed, and many don’t know how to handle it. LG and Discovery Education have created a no-cost, standards-aligned curriculum to help them bounce back from the hard times and discover their happy through regular practice of the Six Sustainable Happiness Skills.
In the seventh installment of our Discover Your Happy blog series, guest bloggers Keith McCaffrey and Joanne Albino, educators from Sachem School District, share how they are putting these skills into action.
McCaffrey is also featured in the Discover Your Happy Virtual Field Trip, which takes students on a journey to understand the science behind happiness.
By Keith McCaffrey and Joanne Albino
What tactics do you use to facilitate the Six Sustainable Happiness Skills in your school/classroom?
Keith: Having just started the new year it was important to set the classroom “tone” which supports the Six Sustainable Happiness Skills. It can be as simple as greeting each student when they come into the classroom (human connection), thanking them for being on time (gratitude), talking about my “great” summer and how I am very much looking forward to a new school year (positive outlook). Since my classes often involve class discussion, I promote an open air whereby students should never be afraid to voice an opinion or constructively disagree with an idea or concept (purpose).
Joanne: In my math classroom this year, I decided to seat the students so that they can work collaboratively at all times. I am finding that this configuration encourages human connection, purpose, gratitude, and generosity. I am noticing more helpful behavior and increased student learning. It is my hope that my classroom becomes a place where students naturally help each other and collaborate to solve problems together which, in turn, will give the students a sense of purpose in being part of a team.
I am also a co-advisor of the Project Happiness club. Students make announcements highlighting a theme of the day with actionable items to try on a daily basis. We also deliver birthday cards to every student on their birthday so that they feel a sense of belonging and connection within our school community. During our after-school meetings we practice mindfulness and brainstorm other ways to build a culture of happiness at our school.
What do you like most about Discover Your Happy?
Keith: The fact that these principles go far beyond the scope of school and education, and that these skills can be practiced in and out of the classroom by students and teachers alike.
Joanne: Personally, since getting involved, I have utilized the happiness skills and have begun to change my mindset. Overall, it’s the daily, positive, varied reinforcement of the skills that I think is the best part!
Have you seen a change in your students with regular exercise of the Six Sustainable Happiness Skills?
Keith: Even though the school year has just begun, I already have had students who do not want to leave when the bell rings, asking me questions about the class and generally interested in learning more. I feel some students crave the one on one interactions which gives them “purpose” and “human connection.”
Joanne: I have noticed that students are engaging with the morning announcements. Students listen attentively, and I have heard feedback from students that the announcements help break negative thoughts that they may be feeling. I also notice the huge smiles on student’s faces when they get a birthday card that they were not expecting!
Have you seen a change in teachers and faculty since implementing practices learned through Discover Your Happy?
Keith: The most obvious change I have witnessed over the last few school months is the smiles. More and more teachers are smiling, saying hello, and treating students with much more respect and acceptance.
Joanne: Many teachers have inquired about the program and are excited to get their students involved. Many are also interested in getting involved for their own personal growth as well. Staff at the school genuinely seem intrigued and excited by the concepts and activities that have been presented so far.
How have the Six Sustainable Happiness Skills inspired your students to overcome difficulties?
Keith: It is apparent that many students who have either personal health/mental issues or perhaps not a positive home life, are leaving their difficulties out of the building. When they enter the school, you can sense a personality redirection towards positivity, gratitude, and mindfulness. Instead of focusing on their troubles they are shifting the energy to something productive for them or the class.
Joanne: One student, after our last meeting, mentioned to me that the announcements and mindfulness activity helped her deal with her anxiety. She said the daily reminders in the announcements were just what she needed to start her day off on a positive note. I am certain that many others in the school feel the same way!
What changes has Discover Your Happy inspired at your school?
Keith: One area that I have witnessed is awareness of respect for each other’s differences. There is much more tolerance and understanding by both the students and faculty, much more than what we experience outside of the school!
Joanne: Students and staff are eager to join in with the happiness initiatives at our school. We have just begun the process, but the buzz is spreading and hopefully, over time, all people who walk the halls will have the tools to discover their own happiness!
Want to learn more about the Six Sustainable Happiness Skills? Explore our Discover Your Happy blog series to hear from educators and LG Experience Happiness partners about how to make the most of the Discover Your Happy program. And don’t forget to sign up for updates to be notified of additions to our curriculum.