A blog about an authentic, contextual approach to Positive Education



The following resources I have used when I was the Dean of Students implementing Positive Education across Mark Oliphant B-12 College. During this time I also explicitly taught Positive Education in the Senior Years Special Education class. I continue to develop a range of resources to use as a critical friend to schools in my role as Senior Leader - Student Engagement and Wellbeing at DECD. Some resources have been adapted from resources shared by Geelong Grammar (The Institute of Positive Education). Geelong Grammar have been pivotal in my Positive Education journey and that of the sites I have worked in - inspirers, mentors, critical friends and an ear to listen to and share ideas with. 


For the original resources to use or adapt for your context please feel free to email me. 

Too often are our vulnerable students reminded of their deficits, and the things that are 'wrong with them.' Dr Ryan Niemiec, Education Director, VIA Institute reminded me that our children and young people need to know they have strengths, be reminded of this often and explicitly and implicitly nurture their strengths.


Our children and young people matter, character strengths matter! 


I have sat in many behaviour management meetings, re-entry meetings and quite often it is our vulnerable students, those who have suffered trauma who continually disengage and behave inappropriately in the classroom and school context. These meetings must be proactive, we need to re-engage these students through positive relationships, care and compassion and nurturing their character strengths in a positive manner. Our students mis-behaviour tells us a story, it is their form of communication and often happens when they are most heightened. The attachment above is a tool to use Character Strengths during these meetings. 

As a staff brainstorm a common language for the overuse and underuse of each  of the 24 VIA strengths. When students 'act out' this is often an overuse and underuse of a strength (the shadow side) - all children and young people have strengths. The second side is a contract that we can use with each individual student to NURTURE the strength their over or under used. 

Despite their background and behaviour - EACH CHILD AND YOUNG PERSON HAS A STRENGTH, it is our job as adults to find and communicate it to them. 

Each child and young person has strengths...as does each adult. An important component of Positive Education is understanding yourself - who you are, what your strengths are. It is essential to live and breathe Positive Education before it is taught to children and young people. 

The following resource supports adults in understanding who they are - knowing thyself. Personality surveys are used throughout university study, to support understanding who we are as learners. There may have been times this was seen as a 'waste of time' but, when used in combination with the VIA Character Strengths they support us in understanding who we are as individuals and what this means in developing relationships with children, young people and colleagues and developing ourselves as learners and leaders.



In my position as Principal and throughout previous positions I have always endeavoured to remain transparent and ensure an authentic, consistent message is delivered to staff. My mantra 'Live and Breathe with Passion' ensures I am leading with purpose and inspiring others to deliver the same message to the children and young people in our care. To support this delivery at the beginning of each week staff receive an update - these entail research, evidence, thinking and activities related to 'Wellbeing for Learning' with a focus on Positive Education and Trauma Informed Practices and Approaches to teaching and learning.



Salisbury North R-7 School

'A Relational and Mindset Focus'

'Relationships and Trauma'

A Trauma Informed Approach 

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