How to Create a Flourishing Classroom? An Intervention Protocol for Enhancing Teachers’ Social and Emotional Learning

  • Markus TalvioEmail author
  • Kirsti Lonka


The positive psychology movement values good atmosphere and flourishing in the classroom. In order to do this, it is important to develop teachers’ social and emotional learning (SEL) as a part of expertise, because teachers are in key position to create supportive and engaging learning environment. Even though promoting SEL as a means to create a flourishing classroom is often recommended in the literature, there is not much multi-national evidence about the development of the teachers’ competencies associated with SEL. Previous research indicates that it is difficult to aid students to flourish without teachers having the necessary skills to scaffold them. Focusing merely on cognitive outcomes is not helping, but instead, we need to train the teachers to support autonomy, agency and self-efficacy in classrooms to build sustainable success and happiness among youth. The whole classroom culture should be developed to support positive encounters. This chapter describes studies on SEL interventions on teachers. The participants of the first study were Finnish teachers who attended to Gordon’s Teacher Effectiveness Training (TET) workshops, based on humanistic psychology. For assessing teachers’ development of SEL, a new method, Dealing with Challenging Interaction (DCI) was developed. DCI helps to capture the real-life challenging situations at teacher’s work in various settings. In all, after the TET intervention the teachers really started using the studied skills, and they were more likely to support their students’ autonomy and agency than the teachers in the comparison groups. The next step was to carry out global investigations about the Lions Quest teacher workshops. These studies revealed increased readiness to develop teachers’ SEL competencies worldwide. Finally, various SEL interventions in nine European countries were looked at. So far, using mixed-method approach in several countries has produced consistent results with satisfactory effect sizes. The research methods appear ecologically valid, yet generalizable in various cultures and contexts. In all, these studies demonstrated that teachers benefit from SEL training. Diverse interventions appeared to increase teachers’ readiness to implement SEL. Especially, teachers’ sense of competence in teaching SEL increased. As such, the purpose of this chapter is to present an intervention protocol, based on the SEL interventions described above that aims at enhancing teachers’ social and emotional learning. The final aim is to develop classroom cultures that promote flourishing in both teachers and students. The present research adds to both theoretical and practical understanding of teachers’ continuing professional development worldwide.


Social and emotional learning (SEL) Professional development Well-being Non-cognitive Intervention Continuing teacher training Mixed-method approach Classroom Dealing with challenging interaction (DCI) 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Optentia Research Focus AreaVaal Triangle Campus, NWUVanderbijlparkSouth Africa

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