Kim Strobel is an energetic, empowering, inspiring speaker—she’ll help teachers remember their “why,” rediscover their happiness, and return to the classroom with confidence and courage!
Science of Happiness and Its Impact on School Culture
For the past 20 years, I’ve studied and researched the topics of Happiness and Positive Psychology, which is the study of happiness and how we learn to thrive in both our personal and professional lives.
The Happiness Pie Chart breaks down the three factors that influence our happiness:
- A whopping 50% of happiness is genetic—which seems to run counter to the idea we have the ability within us to actually make ourselves happier! And it’s a valid concern when you think of some of the people and personalities we encounter in our daily lives.
- 10% of happiness is based on individual circumstances: your job and its challenges; how much money you make—or don’t make; your material possessions, like cars, homes, shoes, etc.
- Here’s the really fascinating section of the pie chart: the remaining 40% is up for grabs. This means that 40% of our happiness—be it personal or professional—is changeable. WE can create happiness! There are many activities and behaviors we can adopt to make this happen.
Happiness researcher, author, and speaker Shawn Achor explains it best: “Happiness is not about being blind to the negatives in our environment; it’s about believing we have the power to do something about them.” In other words, it’s not necessarily reality that shapes you, but the lens through which your brain views the world that shapes your reality.
Mr. Achor also says, “What the science of happiness has found is that if we can change that lens, not only can we increase personal happiness, we can also affect positive change in education and business outcomes.” This is exactly what I feel called to do for educators.
So, how does this transfer to the classroom? Educational guru Robert Marzano says, “The single most influential component of an effective school is the individual teachers within the school.” I wholeheartedly believe this. We know which classrooms students are excited to step into each day—and which ones they’re not. The Science of Happiness can help transform your classroom into one where students love to learn and are able to thrive.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
- Two characteristics students are looking for in a teacher
- The Happiness Research
- Training the brain to be positive
- Relationships with students and with co-workers
- Creating more joy in your profession
- Taking our power back
Shifting to a Positive Mindset
Boosting Professional and Personal Success
Frequently, I hear from teachers about negativity in the workplace. It often comes in the form of fellow teachers who are so caught up in the politics of education and the “busy-ness” of the school year, that they’ve lost the joy that led them to choose a career in teaching. They have a negative attitude—and it’s starting to affect everyone around them.
A 2013 Gallop poll found that only 13% of the workforce is happy in their jobs, which results in a cost of $500 billion annually, in the US alone. When the workforce in question is comprised of teachers, the loss may be felt more than just monetarily. Lessons suffer, learning suffers, students suffer.
But happiness researcher Shawn Achor has found that when employees work with a positive mindset, their performance undergoes a positive transformation, as well, improving productivity, creativity, and engagement. Further, Achor says, “People who cultivate a positive mindset perform better in the face of challenge.” Which means, even if you work with a bunch of Negative Nellies, you can still be a Positive Polly!
All of us in the education field have a choice to make. We can focus on everything that’s broken about the system—or we can choose HOPE. We can refocus our energies and find ways back to doing what we know in our hearts is truly RIGHT for our students—beyond the standardized tests and professional politics. We can show up for our students in the ways they need us to—with a positive mindset and a joyful heart.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
- How to be the positive outlier
- Negative Nellies and Positive Pollies
- The Power of Positive Energy
- How to change the lens through which we view challenges
A Mission to Make the System Work for All
Schools are struggling. Administrators are frustrated. Teachers are overworked. Students are paying the price. And everyone is looking for a way to reform—and transform—a troubled education system.
But before any sort of reform can happen, I think everyone involved needs to ask themselves a very important question: Do we need to reimagine what education can really be?
As educators, we are preparing young people for the future. And that’s why our outdated educational system needs to change. The future belongs to artists, inventors, storytellers—creative thinkers!
We need to take advantage of the technological resources we have at our disposal. We need to understand the unique challenges of the 21st century learner. We need to offer a personalized approach to educating young people.
We have an unprecedented opportunity to reimagine education in a BIG way. One that supports our students’ abilities, yet pushes them to accept new challenges. One that recognizes the sacrifices teachers make, yet encourages them to embrace new perspectives and techniques. One that understands administrative limits, yet pushes for the reform and resources our schools need and deserve.
I want to renew HOPE and let everyone who is involved in education know they DO have the power to change the system. And I’m heartened to know that so many teachers, administrators, and others are willing to join me on this mission to reimagine what our students are capable of doing.
For so long, the system has placed an outsized value on IQ, on the ability of students to perform and learn in only a few outdated ways, on the almighty test score. These are outdated practices, and thankfully, schools are moving in the right direction.
But there’s still work to be done. That’s why I’m looking for recruits for my mission to reimagine education. This keynote will inspire teachers, parents, and policymakers to rethink the real nature and purpose of education—to get back to the business of learning.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
- The changing landscape of the 21st Century learner
- 6 elements needed in today’s world of learners
- Getting back to the heart of teaching
- Left Brain vs. Right Brain: Understanding how the brain works
- The powerful socioeconomic forces that shape the world—and education
- How to transform a troubled education system
- How to engage ALL students and develop their love of learning
- Enabling students to face the real challenges of the 21st Century
Remembering Your Why
Meaning, Purpose, and Passion in Education
As someone who has experienced moments of powerlessness in my personal life, as well as in my career as an educator, I’m all too familiar with how easy it is to feel helpless. Teachers, in general, are struggling right now. Educators feel they are working in a time of chaos; they are over-worked, overwhelmed, and over-stressed. Some have lost a lot of their joy. And what concerns me most is the toll these feelings are taking on them and how it’s affecting their lives, their classrooms, and their students.
But I believe that sometimes it’s out of chaos that solutions cry out. Teachers need to be reminded of their “why”—and they need tools to help them navigate the ever-changing landscape of this profession.
During this keynote, I share the story of a very special student who had a profound impact on my life. Teachers are moved to tears when they hear about this student who faced challenges not just in the classroom, but also at home. I share this story because it drives home how truly important it is for teachers to remember and embrace their “why”—because this student taught me a lot about my own reasons for teaching.
I’m determined to help teachers rediscover their passion for teaching, but more than anything, I want them to reclaim their lives and stand proud on this path they have chosen. I want to empower them, because they are the ones who step in our classrooms 180 days a year and hold great influence on our children. What they do matters greatly, and the fact that they feel called to teach … well, this is truly a service of the heart.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
- What we do MATTERS
- What’s your WHY?
- When we lose our WHY, we lose our WAY
- How to Reclaim Your Profession and Joy
- Relationships Matter: Love First, Teach Second
- Culture and Climate
Bringing Creativity and Innovation Back to the Classroom
Genius Hour is taking the education world by storm! It is a movement that allows our students to explore their own passions and interests, and it encourages creativity in the classroom by providing students a choice in what they learn during a set period of the school day.
The Genius Hour concept is based on one of Google’s practices: they encourage that 80% of their employees’ work-week be spent researching, investigating, and exploring a topic or passion of personal interest, one that is not directly tied to their job description but in line with the mission of the company. As a result, they’ve found that 80% of their best ideas come from that 20% of independent work.
Genius Hour empowers students to wonder, to explore, and to create; it is our job as educators to encourage critical thinking and inspire creativity—skills that are needed for the 21st century learner. It is no longer about compliantly sticking to a scheduled curriculum of memorization and recall. Learners come alive in Genius Hour, motivation levels skyrocket, and students are completely engaged. The future belongs to creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers and meaning makers, artists, inventors, designers, storytellers, innovators, and big picture thinkers—and Genius Hour is where it can all begin.
HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL LEARN
- What is Genius Hour and why do our students need it?
- Introducing Genius Hour to your students
- Create procedures and processes that structure a successful Genius Hour
- How to connect your standards and your curriculum to Genius Hour
Increasing Achievement & Boosting Motivation
There are two mindsets that have a MAJOR impact on our ability to learn, grow, and achieve our goals.
GROWTH MINDSET: You believe that your skills and intelligence are things that can be developed, cultivated, and improved—that you DO have the capacity to learn and grow. Skills are built through effort and everyone can change.
FIXED MINDSET: You believe that your skills and intelligence are carved in stone and that you DON’T have the capacity to develop, cultivate, or improve them. You are born with a certain aptitude and intelligence and can’t do much to change them.
Research shows that a growth mindset can foster grit, determination, and work ethic within students, athletes, and people of all ages. Carol Dweck’s extensive research of the topic also shows that people with a growth mindset learn, grow, and achieve more than people that have fixed mindsets.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
1. Establish Growth Mindset Beliefs
- The brain is like a muscle that can be strengthened
- We learn by doing, experiencing, and practicing
- The more we do, the more we learn
- Growth comes from productive struggle
- Skills are BUILT not born—and they are yours if you earn them
2. Our Words Influence the Culture
- The connection between ability and accomplishment
- Negative labels and how they work
- The dangers of praise and positive labels
3. Create a Growth Mindset in Students
- What makes a great teacher?
- Messages about success and failure
- Tools for creating a growth mindset classroom