I’m hoping this post can give you a better understanding of Positive Priming: both what it is and how to implement it. However, I know it is not all-inclusive, so if you have any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. During these crazy COVID times, I think it is also important to mention that Positive Priming can also be done virtually!
This is the challenge: as humans, we are wired to scan for the negative...for threats. So we are inherently constantly scanning our environment for what can kill us--or maybe harm us not just physically, but emotionally. This means we are really good at finding the negative. To overcome this overwhelming magnetic pull, we need to put in work to change what we focus on. Positive Priming can help.
Where Did Positive Priming Come From?
I think I coined the term Positive Priming around 2016 or so. I had been using the strategy for a number of years before, but I officially named it only a few years ago. However, the whole idea of the benefit of positive emotions came from North Carolina years before. Dr. Barbara Fredrickson of UNC is one of the world’s leading researchers of positivity--in fact, one of her books is titled Positivity. Within, Fredrickson shares a concept called the Positivity Ratio. Basically, if a person has a ratio of about 3 positive emotions to every 1 negative emotion, they will flourish...they will be pretty successful. Over time, there has been some debate about the ratio being 5 to 1, but I think we can all agree that anywhere between 3 and 5 will be just fine for what I’m discussing here. This concept is what led me to start thinking about Positive Priming. If I could help my students have a better positivity ratio, they might be more successful. So I researched more. Fredrickson identified 10 major positive emotions that were most impactful: joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, inspiration, awe, and love. My focus was to attempt to ignite one or more of these emotions in my students within the first few minutes of class each day.
What Can Positive Priming Actually Do For Your Students?
The scientifically-proven benefits of Positive Priming are many. Here are some of my favorites:
The Basics of Positive Priming
A Sample Week of Positive Priming
I will say that I don’t usually follow a pattern each week anymore. I try to use some variety from day-to-day, but I do use WOW Wednesdays and Thank You Thursdays almost every week. In addition, each day I give students a small bit of time to talk about the priming activity. It is usually just like 30 seconds, but it could be more depending on how it resonates. At any rate, here is what a week of priming could look like:
And There's a Bonus!
Here is the beauty of this entire post: Yes!--Positive Priming will work for your students, but...wait for it...it will work for teachers, too. In essence, if you engage in priming activities, you will reap the benefits as well. Enjoy the videos. Laugh. Write down 3 new things you are grateful for. Do as much as you can. You don’t have to do every activity every class period, but even if you choose one hour a day to engage, you will put yourself in a positive state...and it will help bring out the best in yourself and your students.
In my Positive Charge workshop, I help participants collaborate and actually create multiple days of potential Positive Priming activities!