COURAGE FOR THE DEED;
GRACE FOR THE DOING
Positive Education - the approach to educational practice that promotes both academic excellence as well as students’ character and well-being.
Dear Shipley Families,
 
As I begin looking forward to next year, I am excited to share a bit more about our plans to move forward with Positive Education, the approach to educational practice that promotes both academic excellence as well as students’ character and well-being. Components of Positive Education have long been part of our DNA and strategic plan, as seen through our SEED (Social, Emotional, and Ethical Development) initiative, among other efforts. Implementing Positive Education will allow us to incorporate some of the best evidence-based education practices from around the world into our community, strengthening the excellent programs and initiatives that we already have in the process. As I have communicated before, we will begin to integrate Positive Education into our entire system of practice at Shipley during the 2017-18 school year. We will formally begin the process with our colleagues this summer and then introduce it to our families and students in the fall. 
 
Our commitment to Positive Education at Shipley is at once a transformational opportunity and an extension of who we long have been as a school. The science and research behind Positive Psychology, on which Positive Education is based, clearly show that identifying a person’s strengths and focusing on developing skills to cultivate and leverage those strengths (rather than on “fixing” one’s faults) leads to greater well-being and better academic and social outcomes. Based on our faculty’s historical experience working with students, this approach has resonated with me and many others in the community.
 
The approach also reflects our ongoing commitment to the health and well-being of our students. We know that approaches informed by the science of Positive Psychology make an incredible difference in helping our students to build the confidence to take productive academic and social risks, and in turn to grow and develop both their intellectual capacity and their character. Investing in Positive Education at a community-wide level will place the Positive Psychology approaches at the heart of our work in all areas of school life, both inside and outside the classroom – and, and as a result, further help our students become the best versions of themselves and flourish individually and as a community.
 
Positive Education at Shipley is, in so many ways, the natural next step in the development of our SEED program.  Led by Director of Student Support Dr. Sharron Russell and a host of other PreK -12 colleagues, SEED has been at the heart of our efforts to support our students both as learners and as people. As you might recall, enhancing our successful SEED program was a key component of the Strategic Plan adopted by the Board of Trustees last year.  Knowing that SEED is integral to achieving our goal of Educational Excellence, we committed to “[advancing] our position as a recognized leader in social, emotional, and ethical development so each of our students continues to be uniquely prepared for success in college and in life.” I must thank our Board of Trustees for unanimously endorsing Positive Education at Shipley as the path to achieving that goal and for ensuring that we will have the resources to make the initiative a reality.
 
To that end, every one of our colleagues will attend a three-day retreat this summer to learn about Positive Education. The retreats will focus on Shipley colleagues learning and living the skills for well-being. They have been designed based on the best international evidence for Positive Education, and tailored to our community based on feedback from Shipley colleagues who attended a pilot retreat in January of 2017. In addition, many of our colleagues will have the opportunity this summer to participate in “train-the-trainer” sessions so that we can take on some of the community training that will occur over time.
 
We are also incredibly fortunate to be working with Dr. Alejandro Adler, Director of International Positive Education at Penn’s Positive Psychology Center to create and implement our plans. In the background will be Dr. Martin Seligman, founder of the field of Positive Psychology, who has addressed our Board of Trustees and our colleagues in recent months.
 
Although Sharron Russell (whose title will become Director of Positive Education and Student Support) and her team have been actively working with Dr. Adler throughout this year, we are still just at the beginning of our journey. Sharron and her team have also been in dialogue with the Geelong Grammar Schoolin Australia, which has already implemented the program.  Their description of Positive Education reflects what we aspire to achieve here at Shipley: “Positive Education brings together the science of Positive Psychologywith best practice teaching to encourage and support individuals, schools and communities to flourish. We refer to flourishing as a combination of ‘feeling good and doing good’. Positive Education focuses on specific skills that assist students to build positive emotion and engagement, good relationships, meaning and purpose and accomplishment. Who could ask for more for our students and our entire community?”
 
Motivated by the prospects in front of us, I look forward to communicating with you on a regular basis about our progress, as well as sharing articles and information on the work and how important it is to the ongoing health and safety of our kids. With that in mind, here is an excellent report recently released by IPEN (International Positive Education Network), The State of Positive Education, and I encourage all of you to take a look. If you want to follow the latest in Positive Education, I also encourage you to follow IPEN on Twitter (@PosEdNet) and Facebook.
 
In my 25 years at Shipley, I find myself more excited about Positive Education than I have been about any other programmatic effort we have undertaken. A major reason for my excitement is that the vision for this initiative demands that we integrate our efforts across all of our work and help our entire community continue to grow in the process. Our mission speaks to educational excellence, love of learning, and compassionate participation in the world. As the head of this school, I have been proud of our community’s deep commitments to the academic, social, and emotional success of our students and to creating a community with meaningful relationships at its core. I look forward to working in partnership with you to make our vision a reality.
 
Sincerely,
Steve Piltch
Head of School

List of 4 items.

  • What is Positive Education?

    Positive Education is based on Positive Psychology – the science of well-being founded by Dr. Martin Seligman. Grounded in the best evidence-based education practices around the world, Positive Education combines academic achievement, well-being, and individual character strengths to better equip communities (teachers, students, and school systems) with the well-being skills and tools needed to flourish in ways that support and strengthen traditional learning.
    Positive Education is based on Positive Psychology – the science of well-being founded by Dr. Martin Seligman. Grounded in the best evidence-based education practices around the world, Positive Education combines academic achievement, well-being, and individual character strengths to better equip communities (teachers, students, and school systems) with the well-being skills and tools needed to flourish in ways that support and strengthen traditional learning. In a school setting, research shows that identifying a person’s strengths and focusing on developing skills to cultivate and leverage those strengths (rather than on “fixing” one’s faults) leads to greater well-being and better academic and other desirable life outcomes. In short, positive education will not only improve wellness in our students and teachers; it will simultaneously improve our academic excellence as well.
  • Reasons behind Shipley’s Positive Education Integration

    As we learned more about Positive Education, it became clear that Shipley has always been committed to the philosophy underlying Positive Education. However, there is now a scientific framework as well as evidence-based education practices and tools to better strengthen the excellent programs and initiatives we already have in place. Using Dr. Seligman’s well-being model, PERMA, we are able to provide our students and teachers with the knowledge and means to improve each component of their well-being. 

    PERMA is composed of five core elements that are necessary for psychological well-being and happiness. Positive Emotions is the most obvious element connected with happiness. This model emphasizes the importance of focusing on the positive aspects of life instead of the negative ones. Reminding children to center their attention on the highs in their lives can offset the stress and challenges they’re going through. Engagement is a little harder to define. Students can experience engagement or flow by becoming absorbed in an enjoyable and challenging task, one that causes them to lose sense of time. This level of engagement is healthy and conducive to thriving within school and beyond. Building authentic PositiveRelationshipsand social connections are vital to our well-being as well. These healthy relationships potentiate positive experiences in life and cushion challenging ones to be able to bounce back from adversities. The fourth ingredient is Meaningandpurpose. It highlights the value of one’s existence and the search for meaning in life – a sense that we are dedicated to and driven by a purpose larger than our individual goals. The last and final piece of PERMA is Achievement. The satisfaction a student gets from crafting a goal that is aligned with a calling or vocation, using character strengths to achieve that objective, and then finally reaching that goal, is overwhelming. Creating goals and achieving them builds self-efficacy and provides a sense of accomplishment, building resilience within each student along the way.
  • What about Shipley’s SEED (Social, Emotional, & Ethical Development) Program? Will Positive Education replace it?

    No! Positive Education at Shipley is, in so many ways, the natural next step in the development of our SEED program. Led by the Director of Positive Education & Student Support, Dr. Sharron Russell, and a group of other PK -12 colleagues, SEED has been at the heart of our efforts to support our students both as learners and as people. As you might recall, enhancing our successful SEED program was a key component of the Strategic Plan adopted by the Board of Trustees last year. Knowing that SEED is integral to achieving our goal of Educational Excellence, we are committed to advancing our position as a recognized leader in social, emotional, and ethical development so each of our students continues to be uniquely prepared for success in college and in life. There is no rigid Positive Education teaching method; rather it is a community-wide approach to developing life skills to improve well-being for ourselves, our students, and ultimately strengthening everything we already do at Shipley, including SEED.
  • What can you do to support Positive Education?

    1. Develop a mindfulness practice, which includes not only things like meditation and yoga, but is defined as “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us (mindful.org).
    2. Use Active Constructive Responding to allow your child/ren to re-live and savor the positive experiences, and use “I” statements to give feedback on the “not so positive” events.
    3. Start a gratitude journal – write down three good things that happen each day and reap the benefits of positive emotion.
    4. Adopt a growth mindset for yourself. It is impossible to have one for others without first having one for yourself.
    5. Focus on character strengths in all situations. Dr. Lea Waters book The Strength Switch is a great place to start to learn more about how to do this.
The Shipley School
814 Yarrow Street
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
T: 610-525-4300 F: 610-525-5082
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The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.