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Several of the articles in this issue focus on helping 2e students to help themselves — both in and outside of the classroom — by identifying and building on their strengths, by increasing their self-awareness, and by using self-talk. Here’s a little background information on how efforts in each of these areas can boost learning and have other positive benefits for twice-exceptional children. You’ll find much more detail in each of the featured topic articles in this issue.
The ideas of positive psychology have been finding their way into the classroom, providing teachers with strategies for helping children to increase their emotional well-being and improve their ability to engage academically. A recent article from Psychology Today (2012) explains the connection between positive psychology and education this way:
Positive psychology claims emotional learning as a prerequisite for academic and social learning. Positive emotions build positive strengths that empower children to make friends, find meaning, and accomplish goals.
According to positive psychology research findings, a major contributor to happiness is identifying and utilizing character strengths, known as Signature Strengths. In the article “Positive Psychology Goes to Primary School,” authors Wendy Ewen and Suzy Green (2013) describe the role of Signature Strengths in the classroom this way:
Playing to people’s strengths enhances well-being because the student is able to do what they naturally do best, and thus generate feelings of autonomy, confidence, and self-esteem.... [I]ncreases in wellbeing are likely to produce increases in learning, with positive mood producing broader attention and more creative, holistic thinking. In addition, students who have positive attitudes toward their teachers and school are more likely to display appropriate behaviour.
In their article, “Using Signature Strengths to Build Self Efficacy: Positive Psychology and the 2e Learner,” Adam Kaplan and Chris Wiebe describe the differences they saw in their twice-exceptional students after weaving Signature Strengths into their instruction.
In a recent article aimed at teachers, author Starr Sackstein (2013) states:
Imagine students who can articulate their own needs based on their knowledge of how they learn. Think about the level of differentiated instruction we would be able to provide if students could tell us that they are meeting standards as evidenced in their last project.... We can teach students to do this, and we should.
A term commonly used to describe this subject area is metacognition, most simply defined as thinking about thinking. Its role in the classroom is commonly described as helping students learn how to learn.
Students trained to use metacognitive strategies have a better understanding of how they learn and have better control over their learning process. Having metacognitive skills enables them to plan, monitor, and evaluate their academic efforts. It empowers them to take control over and responsibility for their own learning. Alicia Cole, in her article, “Metacognition and the Twice-exceptional Learner,” gives teachers ideas on ways they can help 2e learners benefit from metacognition
In an article last spring, Time magazine’s NewsFeed (Newcomb, 2012), reported that people who talk to themselves — either out loud or just in their minds — are “more likely to stay on task, remain better focused and show improved perception capabilities.” This statement is based on research that has shown the benefits of using verbal cues, referred to as self-talk, to trigger mental pictures. Self-talk, which might range from giving oneself encouragement to step-by-step instructions, has proven to be effective in improving learning as well as in changing attitudes and behaviors. Find out more about the uses of self-talk in Michael Gladstein’s article, “Executive Functioning, Self-questioning, and School Success.”
Ewen, W. & Green, S. (2013). Positive psychology goes to primary school. Retrieved from www.minnisjournals.com.au/educationtoday/article/Positive-psychology-goes-to-primary-school-388.
Newcomb, T. (April 25, 2012). Talking to yourself may actually be a good idea. Retrieved from newsfeed.time.com/2012/04/25/talking-to-yourself-may-actually-be-a-good-idea/.
O’Grady, P. (September 12, 2012). Positive psychology in the classroom: Teaching students to be self-aware, self-assured, and self-sufficient. Retrieved from www.psychologytoday.com/blog/positive-psychology-in-the-classroom/201209/back-school-positive-psychology.
Sackstein, S. (February 28, 2013). Teaching self-awareness to improve learning/United Federation of Teachers. Retrieved from www.uft.org/teacher-teacher/teaching-self-awareness-improve-learning.