As I set out to write this piece, I thought of who my audience might be. Should I write for elementary age learning, adult learning, in the classroom, or online? After a few seconds of thought, I determined that there are benefits across the board. Learning and development walk the path of education hand in hand. Development and the way in which all students learn in a positive manner do not stop at the gates of high school. Time-tested, through the over twenty years I have been teaching, tells me that these practices not only support educational success but a person’s reflective positive esteem and self-efficacy. Are you ready to RAISE  the bar?

Let’s RAISE the Bar

Over my many years of teaching, and through the many collaborative interactions with students, I have developed the acronym RAISE. First, because it signifies elevation, which I have always been a fan of evaluating students to new levels. Second, it acts as a reminder of the actions and behaviors that reflect a growth environment that I want to be a part of.

RAISE is a reflective tool for servant educators who mindfully desire to incorporate educational elements that go beyond teaching curriculum and support perpetuated growth of students personally.  It models what, we as servant educators, want to put out there to the world; behaviors, and actions that are created through “pass it on” positive role model mentorship. We have the power to RAISE the bar of education.


Respect encapsulates ways in which a person wants to be viewed or treated; revered, admired, etc. What do you admire about your students? Let them know. “I admire your dedication… I admire that you took the extra time…” Respect can be nurtured by pointing out what went well alongside what didn’t go so well. When students feel they are respected, they are more open to growth feedback as they know their esteem and worth is valued.

Student thought/reaction—oh yeah, I’m that good, the teacher said so. Yeah, maybe I can improve my writing a bit, but the teacher said it is a working progress and I just need to keep practicing; I can do that.


Appreciation is probably the easiest yet most overlooked action in the classroom. It is not outside of an educator’s realm to say “thank you for taking the time to provide inputs, your inputs really add to our learning… I appreciate that you share your perspectives…” not only does it add to the positive dynamic of learning, but it also strengthens the learning relationship between an educator and student

Student thought/reaction–oh my gosh, my teacher values me! I am so telling my parents that I am almost the teacher of the class.


Nothing is more inspiring than developing a sense of wonder of what is yet to come. As field leaders, we often think we must tell our story of success to inspire students. However, we are just the tour guides of their journey. Creating a sense of self-inspiration through motivation, making them curious, and developing efficacy, inspiration becomes an array of possibilities.

Student thought/reaction—The teacher said my Lego model looked like a NASA rocket. Who’s to say I can’t build a rocket for real? I just might do that someday.


From age zero to one hundred plus we want to know we are supported. Support becomes evident when an educator engages in helping solve an issue. Evidence of support is shown through a willingness to elaborate, collaborate and champion for a student. When students feel an educator has their back, they are less frustrated, and it reduces stress. The ultimate outcome is that the student feels more confident and secure asking for help. In the end, it generates a positive dynamic and environment of growth.

Student thought/reaction—I am so glad I can talk to my teacher; this was a rough week. I know the teacher will understand and has my back.


Yes, energy can be created online. An educator’s energy or lack thereof is contagious.  Students, of all ages, look to the educator to set the tone. Whether it is a blast out “welcome to the most amazing course you will ever take” message, or a hooking story at the beginning of class to include students’ thoughts and ideas; educators set the stage and the tone. The curriculum is but ink and paper, an energetic educator creates a vortex of wonder and hunger to learn.

Student thought/reaction—this is so fun. Who knew school could be fun, but I’m going to tell anyone; others would think I was weird for liking to go to school?

In all honesty, I am sure RAISE is not a new and novel concept in the classroom and there are many who are already practicing the actions. The intent here is to offer a positive additive to curriculum that not only supports growth learning but positively develops all students, or all ages, on their path throughout life.

About the author: Dr. Lynn Soots has been teaching psychology at the higher education level for over ten years. She is proud to integrate Positive Psychology applications in each of her courses to support growth and student goal attainment. She specializes in higher education online course-room design, adult learning, and diversity appreciation.


‘We are the Positive Psychology People’

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