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What About Teacher Flourishing?

By Dave Stuart Jr.

We talk a lot about flourishing here at the blog, and that's good because it's the whole point of schooling. Schools exist to promote the long-term flourishing of kids. In the best schools, the adults who facilitate all of this are flourishing, too.

The most rigorous study of human flourishing that I'm aware of is Marty Seligman's. In his aptly-titled¬†Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being, Seligman distills the “what” of flourishing into five points. If you've got PERMA, then you might be flourishing.

  • Positive emotions
  • Engagement (or flow) in your work or hobbies
  • Relationships (especially rich and supportive ones)
  • Meaning
  • Accomplishment

So Memorial Day has come and gone, and here we are on the brink of summer. Let's take a minute to consider a few questions — for once, not about our students' flourishing, but our own. How will you work toward bringing more of these elements into our own lives this summer? Pick at least one of the following reflective application prompts and write out an answer — either privately or in the comments section of this blog article. Even better, consider sharing what you wrote with a colleague.

  • Positive emotion: What might you do this summer that can give you easy access to joy, or contentment, or happiness, or peace? How can you make more space for these kinds of activities?
  • Engagement: What kinds of activities take you into that flow state where you lose track of time and, in Jedi speak, become one with the Force? How can you make more time this summer to do things that engage you, all of you?
  • Relationships: Building better relationships is often hard, but the fruits last longer. Our relationships outside of school may very well be our longest-lasting legacies. So, here is the prompt: Who would you like to build a stronger relationship with this summer?
  • Meaning: This summer, how might you give yourself in service to something bigger than you? How might you use your unique strengths toward a goal or a task that's much bigger than you?
  • Accomplishment: What is one thing you'd like to accomplish this summer, outside of the realm of teaching? Perhaps it's a physical accomplishment — climbing a mountain, walking a 5k — or perhaps it's something fun with a loved one — traveling to two states you've never been to with your daughter. What's something you'd like to accomplish this summer? What would give a sense, looking back at your summer this September, of, “Hey — this summer I did something cool.”

Pick one (or more) and just write. If we use our summers poorly, we're bound to lose the steam it takes to run our career's race.

Teaching right beside you,


4 Responses to What About Teacher Flourishing?

  1. jnolds May 30, 2018 at 4:20 pm #

    Dave, thank you for answering a question that I thought about asking but never got to in the Student Motivation Course’s Q&A! (i.e. What do you think can help us stay motivated over the summer?)

    For me as summer break comes, high school teaching goes from feast to famine in terms of relationships and regular meaningful work with curriculum, teaching, and learning. I can sometimes lose much of the good motivation and momentum from the school year. The Student Motivation Course helped me see some effective ways that I can plan and pace the summer to have plenty of time off yet still dabble enough in some study, course development work, and encouraging online discussions.

    • davestuartjr May 31, 2018 at 3:47 pm #

      I’m so glad this helps, John! I look forward to learning more together this summer. Cheers to the work we do this summer!

  2. Donald Tobkin June 1, 2018 at 5:37 pm #

    My age will mark four-score next Winter……….. enough years to have observed some very discouraging and radical shifts in lifestyle choices and moral values in our popular culture. My health continues strong and clear and I do continue to receive occasional “Guest Teacher” assignments. I’ve “come the distance” living alone and so it is always a delight to go into a school and spend time with students……….. and not feel so alone for awhile. It is my way to do the hard work of building student-teacher relationships/connections as best as I can while having these occasional opportunities. Alas……….. several times I’ve had the painful experience of learning that having a concern for building interpersonal relationships in the schools has raised up the accusation of being a sexual predator. Let’s say that I’ve learned that the identity of a sexual predator has now become what I call the “default prejudice” in our corrupted culture. The students NEVER mis-read my heart, but some adults surely do! This “default prejudice” must impulsively seize control of their minds and they quickly turn into acting like bullies! The moral integrity of my generation seems no longer acceptable (or maybe not even even recognizable!!) in our modern popular culture. Sad to say!

    With regard to your “PERMA” reflection/response format, I choose to write about the A….. Accomplishment. I’ve decided to respectfully challenge some “bullies” that attacked me a few months ago…… by preparing a lesson plan for learning the concerns of justice, due process, and making a commitment to the tough demands of always being respectful of others. I’m working on this lesson plan now and plan to request an opportunity for a meeting sometime in July. Indeed, I will surely be out of my so-called “comfort zone,” but I’m mindful of the oft-repeated teaching of our recent Holy Father, John Paul II: BE NOT AFRAID!!

    This is my first time to make any response to your website content. I’ve been receiving your content for over a year and often find it helpful. I don’t know exactly what to expect after posting this comment………… I guess that I will learn. I hereby put my plans in writing….. (my generation took such actions for serious). Many thanks for your time to read my content here.


    • davestuartjr June 21, 2018 at 11:54 am #

      Donald, thank you for writing in with this. It does pain my heart how quickly accusations or suspicions like the ones you mention be targeted with can be slung at someone. Truly, it’s a day when even the purest of heart have to pay extra heed to keeping doors open and staying above above above reproach. I do hope that you are able to meet with these people and make peace. I hope that you’ll be able to make your corner of the world a bit kinder and more thoughtful.

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