High School

A 10-Step Guide to Successfully Implementing The Positivity Project in High Schools

By Melissa Darr

At The Positivity Project, we understand that the wide variety of team and department configurations combined with differences in scheduling models can make finding a way to implement The Positivity Project (P2) with integrity and fidelity particularly demanding for high schools. At the same time, we know that when implemented consistently at this level, the impact is profound.

That’s because P2 is distinct from traditional social emotional learning and character education programs. It is designed to enhance the overall well-being and resilience of students by focusing on positive psychology 24 character strengths, and the Other People Mindset.

Concord High School in Concord, North Carolina, is in their second year of P2 implementation. After just one year of strategic, collaborative planning and consistent implementation, they serve as an exemplary P2 Partner School. Below are Concord High School’s ten replicable steps to successful implementation, supported by some specific suggestions and resources from the P2 team.

#1 Build it into your master schedule and stick to it.

While implementation models vastly vary from school to school, two things remain true—consistency is key, and frequency trumps duration. Whether you decide to implement three days per week for 10 minutes per session or five days per week for 15 minutes per session, stick to your plan. We understand that every school’s schedule is packed, but P2 is designed to seamlessly integrate into your existing programs. We recommend finding pockets of time, perhaps during homeroom or advisory periods, to introduce P2 content. Leverage our secondary-specific guidance as a planning tool with your team to determine which model best fits your school community.

#2 Make it accessible to teachers

We highly recommend encouraging your entire team to bookmark the P2 Resource Guide. Doing so will ensure quick and easy access to all of our resources. For those less familiar with online tools, consider organizing a brief tech training session or providing a simple screenshare to ensure everyone can access the resources without hassle. As resources are updated, or new resources are released, they’re added to this guide—no changing links or looking elsewhere required, making this the easiest way to stay updated on everything included in your partnership! This quick video explains how to easily access and navigate all P2 has to offer. Do you use a “week at a glance” document or a communication document? Plug in the Resource Guide in highly trafficked areas to increase usage!

#3 Monitor and get feedback

P2 should be a collaborative work in progress that’s constantly being fine-tuned. This isn’t about adding more tasks but ensuring it remains relevant and impactful for your school environment. Collect feedback from school community members throughout the school year to increase buy-in and reach desired outcomes. To minimize planning and preparation as much as possible, below are some resources you can leverage as is or customize to support meaningful internal data collection at your school.

  • Staff Quick Check-In Form – This Google form allows for a quick check-in with staff around frequency of implementation, glows and grows, and a satisfaction rating survey.
  • Formal District P2 Leader Check-In Example – This slide deck provides an example, from a Partner District of 40+ schools, of how you might facilitate a check-in with school-based P2 Leaders. 
  • Fidelity Tool – This Google form provides a fidelity deep dive through staff and student interview questions and observation look-fors.
  • Family Feedback Form – Include families in this important work by collecting meaningful feedback around their experience with the program.
  • SRSS-IE Guidance – This screening tool allows schools to gather a quick snapshot of school culture and climate and help to gauge whether P2 is having a positive impact on students’ emotional and behavioral health.

#4 Take it outside of the P2 block

Consider how P2 might support a club, sports team, or your academic curriculum. Encourage your team to weave strengths-based vocabulary into all aspects of the school day. Visit our Culture & Community Toolbox to authentically infuse P2 into your campus.

#5 Involve all stakeholders

Ensure that all staff members understand that their efforts and commitment to teaching character education matters! A holistic approach supports positive school culture and widespread buy-in. To help with this, we provide introductory on-demand training tools tailored for educators to get acquainted with the P2 principles and methodologies. Share our P2 by Role training videos with your team to ensure they’re aware of which resources are most relevant to their work.

#6 Make it personal, make connections

Authentically share stories with students and colleagues that relate to positive psychology, the 24 character strengths, and the Other People Mindset. Ensure both staff and students take the character strengths survey. Following doing so, dive deeper with a character puzzle to make personal connections.

#7 Leadership has to be involved

Lead by example! Many of our most successful Partner Schools have a passionate, dedicated leadership team supported by a character education committee. Make sure your commitment to character education is understood to be an unwavering priority. Even with a packed schedule, showing brief moments of commitment can send a strong message to the rest of the school. Consider designating a P2 point person or committee to help ensure consistent implementation.

#8 Implementation of anything takes time

Be patient with yourself and with your team! Allow time to discuss and reflect, lean on feedback collected throughout the year, and make adjustments to your implementation model as needed. If you need additional support, reach out to your School Success Coordinator.

#9 Celebrate Success

Showcase the 24 strengths shining in your school community by granting character awards. Host an assembly to celebrate your commitment to building positive relationships. Nominate your school community members for a P2 spotlight award. Consider becoming a shield school to exhibit your dedication to building good humans. However you choose to celebrate character, make it loud and proud!

#10 Put it all together

The P2 Profile of a Graduate illustrates the direct alignment between The Positivity Project, desired academic outcomes, and real-world skills—the ultimate goal. Students who engage with P2’s PreK-12 strengths-based content will graduate empowered and inspired to fulfill their greatest potential, able to capitalize on their strong character, and prepared to leverage positive relationships to effectively problem-solve and productively contribute to our highly complex world. Keep your eye on the prize—The Positivity Project’s Profile of a Graduate illustrates the end goal for all learners. 

We look forward to learning from and supporting an implementation model that works best for your school community—we can’t wait to see your #PositivityInAction!

Melissa Darr
School Success Coordinator

Melissa Darr serves as The Positivity Project’s School Success Coordinator for the South and West Regions. Melissa earned a bachelor’s degree in dual intervention services from Bowling Green State University. Here, she served as director of the university chapter of RallyCap Sports—an organization that unites college students and student-athletes to provide sports opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Prior to joining the P2 team, Melissa taught students with exceptionalities in a wide variety of contexts between Ohio and North Carolina. Most recently, Melissa worked at a P2 Partner school in North Carolina where she taught in an alternative learning center and served as the special education department chair. Melissa lives in Raleigh with her partner, Alek.