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Community October 31, 2017

Cultivating Joy: A Look at Urban Education through the Lens of Positive Psychology

joy /joi/ : a state of happiness, felicity

Not surprisingly, joy is a word that is not often used to describe an educator’s journey in urban education. An urban educator faces a seemingly endless list of obstacles involving complex student needs and challenging student behaviors every single day. These issues often cause urban educators to focus much of their day on problems that are often outside of their control. This can lead to feelings of being overwhelmed and exhausted . We get it.

What science tells us is that our brains are hard wired to focus on the hardships in our lives, which is adaptive for our survival. However, a disproportionate focus on the “negative” without deliberate effort to notice and cultivate the positive can significantly decrease the quality of our lives. In a field where there are so many trials and problems, is it any wonder that so many educators lose their joy and burn out?

The Study of Joy

Founded by American Psychologist Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania, Positive Psychology is the scientific study of why individuals and communities thrive. It is unique in its field because the focus is not on what disables people, but rather on what enables people.  It examines how individuals can become happier and more joyful in their lives. In short it is the science of human flourishing.

A Call To Action

Through many discussions within our own organization about how we could better support our teachers and staff, we decided that we must explore the intersections of how the principles of positive psychology could be applied in the field of urban education.  Using this philosophy, this blog will provide educators with science based resources and tools to build a greater capacity for well-being and success within our work. We will share well researched practices and highlight real life examples of educators that model these practices successfully.

While there are no magic solutions to the many challenges, it is critical that we are deliberate in focusing on what enables us to thrive and what brings us joy.

Joyful teachers teach better. Joyful students learn more. Together let’s bring more joyful moments into our schools.

Please join us on this journey. We think you will be happy you did.

With Gratitude,

Jennifer Faustman, CEO