One of my MAPP classmates, John Yeager, is on faculty at Culver Academy, a co-ed boarding school in Culver, Indiana. On June 12-14, John, Sherri Fisher (another classmate), and I put on a 3-day seminar entitled "Broadening and Building Positive Emotion at Culver" for 21 Culver faculty and a guest from Exeter. The three of us were in a small cohort throughout MAPP that was the "education cohort." (As the only lawyer, I had to do my thinking about lawyers and positive psychology more on my on -- but there's some interesting progress there, also.)
It was interesting for me to learn about boarding schools, especially since Sherri and I got to visit with the guest from Exeter a good bit. And, there's a Lady Vols connection to Culver! (If you follow that link, notice how a public school system lost that student!)
Culver is making a substantial investment in positive psychology, first with John's particpation in MAPP and now with this seminar and another scheduled for August. The faculty and counselors in this session were engaged and asked wonderful questions through all three days -- pretty good for folks that had just finished a demanding year and a week of faculty meetings! Culver did the right thing and compensated them for the additional time, and it was clear that meant a lot to them. And it speaks to the administration's support for this effort.
We tried to give the folks a broad introduction to positive psychology. After all, so much of it applies to education! Some topics that got a lot of reaction in the presentations the participants made on the last day included:
Active Constructive Responding -- how to build (or hurt!) relationships when someone shares good news
Appreciative Inquiry/Intelligence -- my presentation on this was aided by a participant's report on her use of AI with the girls in her dorm
Personal Theories of Intelligence -- how students' theories of intelligence (entity vs. incremental) affect willingness to undertake learning challenges, reactions to difficulty, etc., and how forms of praise can shape these theories
Character Strengths -- this is right down John's alley and he's been doing work in this area with students already. All participants identified their VIA strengths prior to the sessions.
Hope/Optimism -- CR Snyder's work on hope and both dispositional (Carver and Scheier) and attributional style (Seligman) approaches to optimism. Our cohort worked extensively in this area during the year due to the significant connections to schools, teaching and learning, and student achievement.
Sherri's a great photographer and we ended the session with a slide show of photos she'd made around campus and during the session. It was a terrific experience and I'm looking forward to a return trip and reports on applications next year!