Positive Education – The Start of the Calamvale Community College Journey

In a modern world where mental illness in young people is on the increase, schools need to be equally focused on building well-rounded, self-reflective students as much as clever ones. Schools know this, but wellbeing programs often come and go and many lack a level of comprehensiveness or are taught as stand-alone lessons, lacking context. Positive Education differs in that it is based on the fundamental tenets of positive psychology and is a broad education model that is proven to help students flourish into happy and fulfilled individuals.

However, more importantly, Positive Education is not just another educational fad. At a school, it is a way of being, a culture that underpins everything that school has to offer, which will ultimately give students the ability to withstand the pressures life will throw at them. Calamvale Community College (CCC) understands this and has made a firm commitment to improve the lives of its students by investing heavily in the Positive Education philosophy across its entire P-12 campus.

This article is the first in a series that will document CCC’s Positive Education journey in the hope of encouraging more schools to follow this path. Based on the model developed by leaders in the field, The Geelong Grammar School, CCC has developed a 5-year plan that will create a Positive Education culture in the College to help students be the very best versions of themselves.

So what is positive psychology and Positive Education?

Essentially, positive psychology differs to other psychological paradigms in that it centres on what’s right with a person as opposed to what’s wrong with someone. It is completely evidence-based and is primarily focused on giving people the tools to ‘flourish’ in their lives, with Positive Education being the educational philosophy and practice created from this psychological paradigm.

It would be foolish to try to summarise Positive Education now; however, the following link will do Positive Education justice on a superficial level.

Click here to view more information.

Calamvale’s Teacher-Centred Implementation Plan

Firstly, like Geelong Grammar, CCC has chosen to follow the mantra:

Learn it, Live it, Teach it, Embed it.

This mantra illustrates the fact that implementation of a truly embedded culture, where the rudiments of positive psychology typify the daily machinations of a school, has to start at the beating heart of that institution – its hard-working teachers.

Additionally, CCC strongly believes that the wellbeing of its teachers is equally important as its students, so has invested greatly in Positive Education with its staff, as they will professionally, and more notably, personally benefit. Our model highlights that teachers have to be given ample time to learn the framework and personally live the evidence-based strategies before teaching it to students. Authenticity is paramount for students to take the framework seriously and teachers who have experienced positive outcomes from their own practise of the framework can only be authentic.

Consequently, the first two years of our implementation plan is completely teacher-focused, giving teachers the opportunity to explore Positive Education in their own personal context rather than be pushed into delivering the Positive Education Framework to students somewhat blindly.

Where are we now and where are we going?

Right now, every teacher is engaging in over 20 hours of professional development in 2017 with a similar amount of time planned for 2018. Teacher wellbeing is the focus and the College’s Positive Education Team is constantly monitoring the program and adapting based on teachers’ feedback. Overall, the Calamvale Team of 160 educators and numerous support staff are the first to benefit from Positive Education at the College and we hope that other schools explore this opportunity for their staff and students also. Feedback from staff has been universally positive, which means we know we are definitely on the right path. We look forward to sharing the highs and lows of this exciting initiative as time rolls on.

Sean Loriaux
Deputy Principal