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MASA Leader - Fall 2016

MASA Feature www.gomasa.org 25 Bringing the Happiness Advantage to Schools By Dr. Bobby Moore Teachers and school leaders can cultivate the mindset and behaviors that have been empirically proven to fuel greater success and fulfillment. The old paradigm, “If I am good at my job, my students learn at high levels, and I am highly successful, it will bring me happi-ness,” has now been debunked by more than a decade of groundbreaking research in the fields of positive psychology and neuroscience. Carol Dweck’s work on growth mindset has been popular in education, but most of the research has only been applied in the context of teachers fostering a growth mindset in students. We know from John Hattie’s research that when a group of educators develop the mindset that they do, indeed, have a great impact on student learning and that collective effi-cacy is achieved. Collective efficacy has an effect size of 1.57, much higher than the .4 effect size, which is said to equate to a year’s worth of growth. Applying the research of positive psychology in our schools is more than telling staff to be happy, focus on the positive aspects of your job, and pretend challenges and obstacles do not exist. To embed these practices, we must relearn some of our behaviors and change some of our mindsets that have had a negative impact on success and fulfillment. As Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage: Seven Principles of Positive Psychology that Fuel Success and Performance at Work, explains, “Happiness is not the belief that we don’t need to change. It is the realization that we can. Happiness and optimism are the precur-sors to success, not merely the result.” When I first heard Achor’s TED Talk, which has been viewed more than 14 million times, I did not immediately make the connection to how his research could improve schools. I viewed it as an opportunity to work on my own mindsets and behaviors, which hopefully would contribute to my own success and fulfill-ment. That changed after I saw Achor’s keynote at the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) Conference last year in Phoenix, during which he talked about the transformation of Cardinal School District in Iowa. The new superintendent of Cardinal, Joel Pederson, turned around the culture and perfor-mance of the district by implementing Achor’s core principles from The Happiness Advantage. Read the district’s story in the September issue of AASA School Administrator. I was excited about the potential of Achor’s research to help create more positive school cultures, but I was still a little skeptical about how. So, I reached out to Dr. Randy Poe, a former Kentucky Association of School Administrators and Kentucky School Boards Association superintendent of the year, who had also brought The Happiness Advantage to Boone County Schools. Over the years, I have come to respect Poe as a leader committed to pedagogy, research, and practice. His district is one of the highest performing in the state of Kentucky, and I frequently bump into him and his staff at national conferences sharing the district’s work. I asked Poe bluntly, “Why did you choose to implement Shawn Achor’s work in Boone County? Was it really needed, or did it turn out to be a distraction to all the other great things you are doing?” What Can MECU Do For You? Since 1942, Michigan Educational Credit Union has served the unique financial needs of educational employees and their families. We feature some of the best rates available anywhere, with less fees and fewer minimum balance requirements than most financial institutions. Find out what we can do for you and your staff today at www.michedcu.org. Livonia 734.261.1050 Plymouth 734.455.9200 Ann Arbor 734.761.7505 Brighton 810.494.6000 Royal Oak 248.399.7473 Macomb 586.566.5599 www.michedcu.org This credit union is federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration.


MASA Leader - Fall 2016
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