The Positive Movement

Positive Parenting, Positive Psychology, Positive Teaching…

The word Positive has been floating around a lot for the past few decades and in more recent years we have seen it frequently used when discussing education and parenting. But why? According to  it wasn’t even until 1973 that the theory of happiness and positivity started to be explored. 

Seems reasonable, as it’s not too frequent that one chooses to be negative and unhappy. Most studies focused more on the environmental factors surrounding those who were happy. Therefore, it does not really come as a shock that advocates for the positive environments of children, at home and school, were soon putting these theories under the microscope. 

We have spoken in the past about environments that create engagement for children. Research (although not an exact answer) often points out that we need to be providing; high expectations, clear guidelines, clear consequences and consistent encouragement. So what does this look like in a positive way? 

Friends of Positive Teaching often ask; how can I be ongoingly positive with my child(ren)? And when the discussion opens; we often find there is a misconception that being ‘positive’ means that one should never acknowledge a failure, a loss, or a negative behaviour. 

To positively engage and teach a child we must be realistic about; emotions, feelings, struggles and milestones! It is about how we, as adults, can control the environment to be that of positive reinforcements and support. Rather than nurturing an environment of negativity and remorse. 

Whose the Boss! 

Whilst chatting to a friend who was curious about the Positive Teaching concept I found that we ended up in a case-like-scenario.

 …“Well, imagine you’re the kid right? And the Teacher is your Boss! Now take this thinking into a workplace environment where you have felt belittled, unappreciated, overworked, unseen or even scared of your boss… yea, that’s what we’re trying to avoid at Positive Teaching. We’re trying to make the whole environment supportive and positive”…

So how do we do this? We feel as though it ultimately comes down to some big players; language, tone, expectations and relationships. 

Language and Tone

Simply, reflect on how you would like to be spoken too. Would you like to be told – “You’re wrong!” or would you like to be told; “Ah, I see where a mistake has been made, let’s have a go at decoding this part, together.”

The tone is important as well and this includes the tone of our body language. You will know what tone best suits an individual by tuning in to their body language. Here’s something that may be of interest; in the classroom teachers often use a quiet voice to achieve a quiet environment… Monkey see, monkey do! Kind of behaviour. 

 At Positive Teaching, we think that Raising Children, Australia sums it up well.  

Good communication with children is about:encouraging them to talk to you so they can tell you what they’re feeling and thinking

being able to really listen and respond in a sensitive way to all kinds of things – not just nice things or good news, but also anger, embarrassment, sadness and fear

– focusing on body language and tone as well as words so you can really understand what children are saying

taking into account what children of different ages can understand and how long they can pay attention in a conversation.

– Communicating well with children improves your bond with them, and encourages them to listen to you.



At Positive Teaching we have a theory on expectations; that maybe if we use communication to build skills and knowledge, we allow for the expectation of support and success.

If you are wanting children to achieve something, you must communicate it. Leaving a child to guess what is expected, does not necessarily help their learning. Imagine asking a teacher how to spell something and them responding; “come on… you should know that, have a go!” This perhaps leaves the child thinking that the expectation is to just know everything. Therefore they are left feeling as though they aren’t clever, because they simply don’t know. Imagine, if we used the following communication; “hmmm, that’s a good question. I know it starts with a ‘th’ let’s look it up together.” To set the expectation that we could use tools to learn how to solve what we don’t know. 

Mrs LD is a big fan of theories and studies by John Hattie and John Piaget, in this field. To quickly summarise; Educational Theorist: John Hattie and his Visible Learning study (2009)  and John Piaget’s theory on Cognitive Development (1936), the visible learning aspects allow us to clearly communicate learning expectations with the child (making them literally visible) and the cognitive development theory influence allows us to deliver expectations that are age appropriate. 

The Piagetian stages include:

Sensorimotor stage (new born – 2 years old): Infants learn by the basic senses including seeing, hearing and touching and construct an understanding of the world by coordinating those experiences with physical, motoric actions.

Pre-operational stage (2 – 7 years old): Children are able to understand basic concepts and symbols, but do not yet understand concrete logic and cannot mentally manipulate information.

Concrete operational stage (7-12 years old): Children in these ages start solving problems in a more logical fashion but abstract, hypothetical thinking has not yet developed.

Formal operational stage (12 years old onwards): Children and adolescents develop abstract thinking and are able to perform hypothetical and deductive reasoning.

– John Piaget


We feel like you know this one. You have most probably experienced good and bad relationships throughout your life. You also most probably remember that teacher that you loved and that teacher that you…. Well, didn’t get along with so well! 

We love Author and Educator, Tara Brown’s summary of relationships, as well as her book: Different Cultures—Common Ground: 85 Proven Strategies to Connect in the Classroom.

Positive relationships truly have the ability and the power to unleash untapped potential in our students. While many teachers may not think they have the time to spend building relationships, I suggest that we don’t have the time not to. Relationships and instruction are not an either–or proposition, but are rather an incredible combination. Research tells us this combination will increase engagement, motivation, test scores, and grade point averages while decreasing absenteeism, dropout rates, and discipline issues.

Begin to unleash the power of positive relationships in your classroom.

– Tara Brown

 Mrs LD’s Quick Tips: 

  1. Always encourage children.
  2. Make learning achievable. 
  3. Build on skills and relationships that enhance the learning environment.
  4. Use supportive and appropriate communication, language and tone. 
  5. Consistently engage in conversation and feedback with your students that are based around academics and personal interest. 


Child Development 

Tara Brown: The Connection Coach

Ted Talk: Positive Education for the 21st Century by John Doran

John Hattie on Visible Learning  


© Positive Teaching

One thought on “The Positive Movement

Add yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Website Powered by

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: