Positive Psychology and School Leadership: The New Science of Positive Educational Leadership


Series: Psychology Research Progress

DOI: 10.52305/MQVH3498

This is an essential guide for all school leaders, aspiring school leaders and leadership educators to help them incorporate positive psychology in their practice. It provides teaching professionals with the necessary knowledge to understand the gap that currently exists in educational leadership along with a starting point to address it. Research indicates that less than 10% of texts in educational leadership convey positive aspects of leadership. Therefore, we know more about problems, deviance and disengagement, than how to create a positive climate in schools, and help teachers to thrive and to achieve their optimal human potential. This accessible, evidence-based guide to fostering trust, authenticity, growing leadership wisdom, spotting employees’ potential, strength-based leadership, developing team’s resilience, psychological capital, job crafting, positive identities and many more, is an invaluable resource and must-read for all teaching professionals.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Introduction
What is positive psychology?
Positive psychology and organisations
Outline of the book

Chapter 2: Developing self
Mindful leadership
Exploring your authentic self
Developing wisdom
Becoming a positively deviant leader

Chapter 3: Developing Individuals

Leading with strengths
Minding your team’s Psychological Capital (PsyCap)
Meaning making and job crafting
Spotting psychological potential

Chapter 4 Developing teams
Engaging with Appreciative Inquiry in schools
Developing team trust
Nurturing high-quality connections
Managing inclusion

Chapter 5: Happy teams
Becoming a champion of well-being
Practicing emotional agility
Supporting positive stress in schools
Positive psychology coaching for school leaders

Chapter 6: Managing full engagement
Keeping your team engaged
Practicing flow-inducing leadership
Managing team’s virtuousness
Passionately gritty engagement

Chapter 7: Creating positive culture
Psychological Safety
Mindsets: Setting your team up for success
Developing positive energy networks

Chapter 8: Helping team bounce back
Developing team’s resilience
Creating high levels of courage and vitality
Positive conflict management
Learning to grow after adversity

Chapter 9: Positive practices
Creating positive identities
Practicing forgiveness, compassion and kindness
Developing a gratitude attitude
Staying curious

Chapter 10: Whole school approach to building positive schools.



“There is a clear and urgent need to apply principles of positive psychology, positive leadership, and positive organizational practices to educational institutions. Compelling research shows that the performance and well-being of both students and teachers are significantly enhanced by the principles discussed in this book. Jolanta Burke has written a straightforward and clear explanation of how positive leadership can produce this outcome. It is a much-needed contribution.” -Professor Kim Cameron, Founder of the Positive Organisational Scholarship, University of Michigan, USA

“Clearly written, accessible and inspiring, Burke delivers a cutting-edge tour of positive psychology theory that celebrates the history and evolution of the field. Burke’s background as a psychologist, researcher and leader shines throughout the book. Readers are treated to a skillfully developed and engaging narrative that signposts strategies leaders can adopt to shape more holistic and caring cultures in their organisations. As we globally struggle to find better ways to support each other during the COVID19 pandemic, provocations to shape how we bounce back and adopt more positive practices in our schools are most welcome. Every once in a while, I buy a book in multiple copies because I know that my students and colleagues will be borrowing them, often. This is one of those books!!” -Dr. Karen Edge, London Centre for Leadership in Learning, University College London, UK

“Dr. Jolanta Burke has written a must-read book. Packed with insightful and expert knowledge, and with a direct writing style, the book offers a right balance between theory and practice. It introduces an original and provocative perspective to apply the latest research in the science of positive psychology in educational contexts and to encourage leaders to use new approaches to confront some of the main issues in school communities. During these challenging times for education, this is an evidence-based inspirational text for those who want to create schools in which everybody can flourish and thrive. As a lecturer in this field, I recommend this book as the perfect choice for every school leader and teacher, and every course in education studies.” -Dr. Andrea Giraldez-Hayes, Director of Master’s in Applied Positive Psychology, University of East London, UK

“This is an important text and a very significant contribution to an aspect of school leadership that is growing in importance. Dr. Burke has opened a door that has been locked or ignored for many years. Positive Psychology offers important perspectives and a range of strategies that have great potential to challenge prevailing orthodoxies and provide a sophisticated conceptual framework that integrates academic rigour with professional relevance. This text will enhance academic programmes, school based professional development and personal reflection and learning.” -Professor John West-Burnham, Educational Leadership Expert, University of Worcester, UK

“Dr. Burke has written an important book and I expect Positive Psychology and School Leadership to become essential reading for both practitioners and academics working in the field of educational leadership and management. It is a timely book given the levels of stress and performativity associated with headship today, and a refreshing take on a much-neglected aspect: how to go deep into the minds and motivations of stakeholders to help them get the best out of themselves, and create the positive school culture that we know from educational effectiveness research matters so much to students and teachers alike.” -Professor Anthony Kelly, Educational Leadership Expert, University of Southampton, UK

“We have now reached a point in the development of positive psychology that its findings can be applied in a variety of settings to improve well-being and functioning. Nowhere is this more important than in our educational system. In this book, Dr.  Burke skillfully brings together relevant findings from positive psychology research and leadership theory to provide a wide-ranging guide for school leaders. She blends her own experience as an educational and academic leader with a rigorous assessment of the research literature on positive leadership in schools. Today there is widespread and growing interest in positive education, an approach that blends academic achievement with the development of strengths, resilience and character. This approach has been shown to be effective, not only in increasing children’s well-being, but also in enhancing their academic achievement. Dr. Burke’s work here on positive leadership in schools adds an important dimension to this vital new approach to education.” -Professor Ciaran O’Boyle, Founding Director of RCSI Institute of Leadership, Director of RCSI Centre for Positive Psychology and Health

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