All teachers want their classes to be the best that they can be. Against this background, Dr. Sandhya Shankar, Assistant Professor at the School of Linguistics and Literary Studies at Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth, tried to provide some answers in the Wednesday Webinar on 13th May 2020. The talk was based on a Coursera course named 'Teaching Character and Creating Positive Classrooms' offered by Relay Graduate School of Education, New York, that she completed during the first few weeks of the recent lockdown.
After a brief overview of the concepts covered in the course, such as PERMA, as well as what is meant by character and character strengths in the context of education and specifically classrooms, Dr. Sandhya discussed the ways in which such positive classrooms could be developed. Classroom implementation for this can be through both 'micro moments' (constructive responses to students, encouraging positivity) as well as through the 'macro structure' (pre-planned activities focusing on specific character strengths or skills). She also discussed her own important learning points from the course, such as using the WOOP (Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan) activity sheet, among others.
The session was made particularly interesting by the clear examples given by the speaker, which included showing her own assignments and tasks from the course. Tips about useful classroom practices, such as smiling often, saying 'yet' when incomplete tasks loom large, not saying 'but' in feedback, and giving more detailed feedback than just one-word adjectives, were also given. The talk was followed by an engaging discussion, where the merits and demerits of the various approaches summarised from the course were deliberated.