In the midst of a time of great challenge and loss, Apple TV’s “Ted Lasso” shines like a beacon of positivity in a somewhat-dimmed world.
For anyone who has yet to binge-watch this show, the series follows Ted Lasso, an American college football coach who is hired to coach an English soccer team because the team’s owner is trying to spite her ex-husband.
Despite knowing nothing about the game, Lasso gives it his all while trying to win over the sceptical soccer community with his optimistic demeanour, grit, persistence…and biscuits.
Below are some of Ted Lasso’s most ‘quote-able quotes’ along with a little food for thought and some practical, pro-active ideas for the classroom.
- “I promise you, there is something worse out there than being sad. And that is being alone and being sad. Ain’t no one in this room alone.”
Positive Relationships – Kindness and Connections
According to Maslow, Glasser, Baumeister and Leary, we all have an in-built need for love and belongingness. Everyone has a feeling of not belonging from time-to-time – this is normal and is commonly overcome. However, in times of physical isolation and separation, a sense of being alone or alienated may be felt more acutely.
Consider setting up an old-fashioned Pen Pal system between classmates – either across grades or within classes. Encourage students to send ‘postcards from my loungeroom’, to exchange short letters or photos of something that made them smile.
Engage in Brain Breaks during lessons. Having a laugh together, or sharing stories in breakout groups, can help everyone feel more connected.
Schedule online workouts with a local gym trainer or your school’s Physical Education teacher and encourage your class to dress in their most colourful clothes. Join in with them and bond with your class over a great sweat session, a calming yoga sequence or an hilarious aerobics class.
Create a theme each week – crazy sock day, backwards hat day, mighty moustache day – to help everyone connect and have a laugh.
- “Be curious. Not judgmental.”
Positive Engagement – Curiosity and Interest
In a time when rules and regulations are at the forefront of many people’s minds, it’s easy to get a case of the “shoulds”. For example, “he should…”, “they always…”, “she never…” – and so on. These examples are cognitive distortions, or ‘Thinking Traps’, which are inaccurate thoughts that reinforce negative thinking patterns.
The best way to combat Thinking Traps is to become aware that they exist and to raise your awareness of when you are engaging in one. Then take a step back (get some perspective) and see if you can think about the situation in another, more positive, light.
Try reading scenarios to your class and asking everyone to think of a handful of reasons why something might be happening.
Use picture books with younger students, asking them to anticipate multiple reasons why a character could be feeling or acting a certain way.
Raise awareness of common ‘Thinking Traps’ and help students to self-identify which ones they use and how they can combat these by being curious about what the truth of the matter actually is.
Engage in some virtual role plays using given scenarios to give students some practice at identifying Thinking Traps or ask them to write a short story or comic about identifying and combatting their cognitive distortions.
- “You know what the happiest animal on Earth is? It’s a goldfish. You know why? Got a ten-second memory. Be a goldfish, Sam.”
Positive Health – Resilience
Although it’s not healthy to suppress negative emotions or ignore difficult situations, it’s also not healthy to fixate on them. We all dwell on past negative events at times. However, rumination (a repeated focus on negative emotions) is a cognitive avoidance strategy that involves focusing on the causes and consequences of a traumatic event instead of actively processing the event itself.
Helping students to set realistic goals can be beneficial as some may focus on what they feel they could have done to reach the goal or why they didn’t reach the goal, instead of readjusting their plan.
Encouraging students to keep a journal that they may or may not want to share can be of help for some, while others might like to have a ‘break buddy’ – someone they are paired up with who they can call whenever they feel they just need to talk.
Practice acceptance – many of the things we ruminate about cannot be solved. Learning to recognise your ruminating thoughts, accepting them for what they are and letting them go like a goldfish can be of help. If in doubt, sing “Let it Go” from Frozen on repeat.
- “Sometimes we all need to be reminded to let go of the bad stuff and keep the happy, good things locked away so you can draw on them when you need them most.”
Positive Emotions – Gratitude, Positivity
As well as letting go of our ruminations, it’s also important to make the most of the good times. Savouring positive moments can considerably improve our happiness and sense of wellbeing. This involves intentionally engaging in thoughts or behaviours that amplify our feelings about positive events.
Savouring the moment involves increasing and extending our enjoyment of current experiences. It’s also a form of mindfulness, requiring us to slow down, pay attention, and really feel and appreciate the present.
Encourage your students to go on a savouring walk in their neighbourhood or backyard. Research has shown that going for a ‘savouring walk’ every day for a week can result in a measurable increase in overall happiness.
Stop to smell the roses…and then take a photo of them! Research indicates that ‘mindful photography’ is a beneficial practice for children and young people, especially when they are encouraged to reflect on the process. Providing students with an opportunity to share a photo of the week could help them to accentuate the positive.
- “Takin’ on a challenge is a lot like riding a horse. If you’re comfortable while you’re doin’ it, you’re probably doin’ it wrong.”
Positive Accomplishment – Grit and Persistence
This is a great reminder that if something is too easy it’s probably not doing you much good and certainly isn’t helping you to grow. Grit and persistence are independent of talent or intelligence and are key drivers of success. Grit involves having both the passion and the perseverance to achieve long-term goals. Showing persistence involves improving our skills and abilities through continued effort.
Create a safe environment in which students feel more comfortable to ask questions and make mistakes. Affirm your belief in the positive impact of students’ efforts on their progress.
Establish the routine of goal setting and reflection. This could be done at the beginning and end of a week, a day, or a lesson.
Consider providing your students with options – whether it’s a variety of essay prompts or levels of Maths questions, coach students through how to select the best option for them, then allow them to choose the option that best meets their required level of challenge that day.
Try forming small accountability groups within your class, organising mentoring groups with students from older year levels, or providing students with regular opportunities to check in with you personally.
- “For me, success is not about the wins and losses. It’s about helping these young fellas be the best versions of themselves on and off the field.”
Positive Purpose – Core Values, Sense of Meaning
In the oft-quoted words of Peterson, “other people matter” (2006, p. 249). At the heart of it, that is why many of us became teachers in the first place – to make a difference in the lives of others and to help them on their journey.
As the strain of remote-learning, blended learning and school shut-downs continue, can I encourage you to take a moment amidst the stressors to remember what matters most? And to not only look after the wellbeing of the students in your care, but to also take the time to look after yourselves and each other, as well.
In the words of Ted Lasso:
“I think if you care about someone and you got a little love in your heart, there ain’t nothin’ you can’t get through together.”
Aimee Bloom is the Product Manager at the Institute of Positive Education. She is responsible for crafting the Institute's Positive Education Enhanced Curriculum (PEEC) from ELC – 12. An experienced teacher and writer since 2005, Aimee has taught in both primary and secondary contexts, and has written content for a variety of government and non-government agencies. She is passionate about supporting teachers and ensuring the wellbeing of children, both in our schools and around the globe.
Peterson, C. (2006). A primer in positive psychology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.