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Promoting teachers and children well-being through Positive Psychology in Portugal

Training sessions integrating the PERMA and SWPBS models into educational practices in preschool education settings in the Municipality of Lousada

Two of the main objectives of the ProW project are concerned with increasing the well-being and professional satisfaction of preschool teachers through the application of models and strategies of Positive Psychology (PERMA), as well as with helping those professionals in managing some behaviours of children (SWPBS) under their care. These objectives require the engagement of all members that participate in the daily lives of preschool settings, promoting positive and cooperative relationships between everyone involved.

In close cooperation with the Municipality of Lousada, the team from the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences of the Porto University is responsible for the implementation of an intervention that will include 50 preschool teachers and assistants of 21 preschool education settings in the Municipality of Lousada, reaching more than 400 preschool children. The first year of this intervention is currently underway and the first two training sessions, with 24 teachers from 11 preschool settings, have already taken place.

In these two sessions, some of the main principles of Positive Psychology were addressed and some of the main elements of the PERMA model were connected to the personal and professional levels of well-being of the participants. More specifically, the participating teachers were invited to take part in a group reflective journey about the following topics:

  • Identification of positive emotions and their influences on behaviour;
  • The importance of emotions in educational practices and personal and professional well-being;
  • The importance of gratitude and empathy in personal well-being and in creating and  maintaining positive relationships;
  •  Exploration of techniques for stress management, relaxation and achieving flow states.

These onsite sessions provided opportunities for sharing and reflecting about less explored connections between the participants’ personal well-being and their professional practices. The openness and active involvement of all participants have allowed these sessions to become productive spaces for reflection about the emotions and behaviours in oneself and others. According to the opinions of the participants, these reflections have been useful in promoting their personal well-being and can inform the future adaptation of some of their own educational practices.

In spite of the limitations imposed by the current pandemic situation, we expect that the following sessions will keep happening at good pace, until the end of this school year (it is estimated that all sessions will be concluded by the month of May of 2022). In the next sessions, the PERMA and SWPBS models will be articulated in a way that may help the participants to manage and implement processes related to:

  • The creation and maintenance of positive relationships in their preschool setting;
  • The definition of communication strategies that benefit teamwork;
  • The definition of a set of values to be implemented in their education setting;
  • The identification and management of some behaviours of children under their care;
  • The definition and adoption of a shared plan for a preschool wide implementation of the set of values and expected behaviours identified.

The results of this intervention will be assessed by regular filling of questionnaires by all participants, both in the experimental group – participating in the intervention during the current school year – and control group – which will be receiving the training sessions during the next school year. We want to thank all preschool teachers and assistants for participating in the ProW project and for their active engagement with all activities that have been presented to them until now.