The Student News Site of Berkley High School


The Student News Site of Berkley High School


The Student News Site of Berkley High School


Mrs. Morris Brings Positive Psychology to BHS

Positive Psychology
Tyann Eades
Mrs. Morris going over the daily schedule for her Positive Psychology class.

When people think of psychology, they may think of only the negative aspects: how people control others, what makes people commit crimes, destructive behavior; but there’s a whole other side of psychology that’s all about how to thrive in life and feel at peace with yourself. This is called positive psychology. While BHS has been teaching general psychology for years now, this school year, a class dedicated to positive psychology was created by psychology teacher Mrs. Morris.

Mrs. Morris (formally known as Ms. Hart) has been teaching the subject for four years. She started with AP Psychology, teaching it online during the COVID-19 pandemic, then added on the one semester psych course for last year only, and now she’s begun teaching positive psych.

When asked how the idea for the positive psychology class sparked, Morris said, ”I started thinking about it one or two years ago when I was teaching AP psych and there’s the section about humanistic psychology and the positive psych of human flourishing and strength. Especially post COVID with all of the concerns surrounding mental health and happiness, I thought what if I could bring a class here that addresses some of those needs and it could be student-centered.”

After crafting out an idea for the class, Mrs. Morris had to go through the approval process. She explained that, ”If you want to start a new class here, essentially how it goes is there’s an approval form that you have to fill out in which you explain what the class is about, what your goals are, what the purpose of it is, what activities will you do, what supplies do you need, and what support needs to be provided. So you go and talk them through your vision, and then it gets submitted to administration, and they look over the proposal and decide if based on the student body there’s a need for this specific class. We talked through it and my proposal was approved, but after the stamp of approval, it’s still not a guarantee. The class gets put on the course descriptions during scheduling, but anywhere between 15 and 20 students at the least are needed to run a course. So you have to have that stamp of approval, plus student interest.” Positive psych had enough student interest to have two one-semester classes this year of about 20 people.

When students walk into Positive Psychology, there’s something new everyday. From Mindfulness Monday to Frontal Lobe Friday, they explore a wide array of topics all in hopes of living happy lives and making good choices.

On Mindfulness Monday’s, the first half of class is focused on some type of mindfulness activity that will improve students’ mental health and overall well being. “They reflect on how they’re feeling prior to the activity, we talk about the sensations in your body. Is your heart racing? Are you really hungry? Are you irritated? Do you have a headache? And then we try some kind of mindfulness strategy, and afterwards they reflect on what the process was like and how they feel now. Maybe they liked it, maybe they didn’t, it’s all about finding certain strategies that will work for each student,” Mrs. Morris says. So far they’ve done a Savoring Walk, in which the class steps outside without their phones and silently walks around and takes in the sounds, sights, and smells of the outdoors, and a guided meditation. Over the course of the class, Mrs. Morris plans for them to try coloring, journaling, and even mindfulness eating.

On Frontal Lobe Friday, the hour is focused on decision making, planning, and judgements, things that the brain’s frontal lobe are used for. Students are tasked with coming up with one short term goal they want to accomplish for the week, such as finishing a missing assignment or cleaning their room and reflecting on it at the end of the week. “Did you accomplish your goal? Did you not? What roadblock did you have?” and they decide whether they need to try that goal again or if they’re ready to create a new one. When asked why these weekly goals are important, Mrs. Morris said, “Completing small goals can make a big difference in happiness. We’re not focusing on the big things like ‘I want to be rich’, but the little things we can do everyday to just help improve our overall happiness.”

Currently, they are studying what creates happiness. After discovering that Nordic countries such as Finland and Denmark are happier than the US, the class has been trying to figure out why and where the disconnect is between there and here. Their first project will be to create a happiness museum, such as the one in Denmark. They’ll record what Americans value as the top things that make them happy and will show what the ranking will look like.

Senior Izzy Lyskawa decided to take a chance and do Mrs. Morris’ positive psychology class because she enjoyed taking AP Psychology and really liked Mrs. Morris and her teaching style. Lyskawa thinks that Mrs. Morris is the highlight of the class, “She’s the best teacher ever, I love her and her energy.” She also highlighted how being in a new class like this is thrilling, “Mrs. Morris is trying new stuff out, so I really never know what to expect when I walk in class. We’re like guinea pigs. It’s different from any other class I’ve ever taken, but I think that’s the fun in it.”

Lyskawa explains why she would recommend the positive psychology class to other students,“I’m learning reasons why people are happy and how that can help me in my everyday life. I think it’s a nice break from the regular school routine, and it’s relaxing.” Mrs. Morris, who wants students to walk away from her class feeling like they can take what they’ve learned in class in their everyday life, practicing positive psychology even outside of the classroom.

All in all, Mrs. Morris wants every student to walk out of her class feeling relaxed and like they’re doing things that actually matter to them, “If I can give students one hour where they don’t have to be boggled with homework and stressed with things that don’t matter to them, I feel like I’ve done my job to help.”

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About the Contributor
Tyann Eades, Entertainment Editor
Hi everybody! My name is Tyann and I'm the entertainment editor this year. I've been a part of the Spectator staff for two years now, joining to fuel my passion for journalistic writing. I enjoy writing articles about TV shows and movies, things going on in our school, social issues, and opinion pieces. When I'm not typing away on my laptop, I can usually be found singing somewhere. I've been doing choir since elementary school and am a part of BHS’ show choir ensemble Encore! I also love listening to music (practically any genre) and reading a good book. This year, I'm most excited to see what new stories the world will present us with. Journalism is a form of writing that really goes with the times and relies on what's going on in the world around us, so I'm curious as to what will occur that our publication can write about. My go-to Donut Cutter order is the classic glaze, but I'm looking to try something new this year at least once.

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