Teaching Positive strengthens children, teens, adults, families and schools by equipping parents, teachers, school staff and students with the social emotional tools and cultural competency to build peaceful, mutually productive homes, classrooms and communities where adults and children thrive. Inspired by Positive Discipline practices founded by Jane Nelsen and the foundational work of Alfred Alder, Abraham Maslow, Albert Bandura, Martin Seligman, Marc Brackett, et al., Teaching Positive is committed to a solution focused and relationship-based framework to nurture social, emotional well being, spiritual connection, and academic growth.
Teaching Positive is driven by four main tenants:
Teaching Positive values experiential learning methods and embeds foundational communication skills to help children and adults create more productive and peaceful relationships while learning important life skills such as problem solving, intrinsic motivation, empathy and cooperation. Through hands-on experiential learning lessons, Teaching Positive nurtures individuals to develop practical applications for home, work and school environments.
The story of Teaching Positive started in 2009 when I was teaching first grade. Before the start of the school year I received a two day Positive Discipline training from Dr. Jody McVittie. I had never heard of the approach before then and when I left the training I believed that it was a highly idealistic and rather unrealistic way of thinking about teaching, learning, and parenting and was convinced that the approach simply wouldn't work with students. Due to my desire to respectfully "prove others wrong" I implemented Positive Discipline with complete fidelity. I was pleasantly surprised that after a few short weeks I saw a transformation in the culture of my classroom and then within three months I saw the significant impact the approach had on the students and myself. Since then the theory of Positive Discipline has come to life in hundreds of classrooms, school communities, homes and even in businesses. What we are noticing is that children are more intrinsically motivated, they are solving problems with their peers and nurturing deeper connections with their parents, and children, parents and teachers are using more effective and respectful communication. We are seeing teachers and parents embodying the very life skills and coping mechanisms they are desperately to teach children.
Teaching Positive means no longer needing to use rewards or behavior charts to manipulate child behavior, or use fear, shame or threats to get children to behave. In fact, we see that children, and adults, are showing their best selves when employing this approach. We are observing a higher level of self awareness and this has led to people thriving emotionally, socially and even spiritually on a new level. More so, we are seeing that when there is a partnership between the home and the school is in place an entirely new level of Teaching Positive comes to light. It is in the environment that is Teaching Positive where we begin to see the possibilities where we live in a world without that which ails our communities: racism, bigotry, social inequities, sexism, etc. Teaching Positive is built on the foundation of Positive Discipline, where self advocacy means mutual respect.
This approach requires a complete paradigm shift that can take time to evolve. Teaching Positive and Living Positive requires a new way of thinking about everything we do as educators and parents: the curriculum we choose, the role we play in our children's lives as encouragement coaches, the choices we make with our free time, how we listen and speak to each other and the words we choose, the conversations we have with people struggling and how we "help" them to "help themselves", how we respond to people who are bullying or "acting out". It makes us rethink every decision we make and whether or not we are truly empowering and supporting a child's growth or are looking at our interactions with a new lens to see if we are in fact enabling someone because our lack of faith in them. Teaching Positive requires a person to reflect on their own coping strategies and revisit our interactions in a deep and meaningful way. Teaching Positive requires us to take responsibility for our mistakes and repair hurt with others. It also requires us to determine how we see ourselves in the world and to assess value we have in creating a community and a world built around empathy, compassion and creative solutions.
The Teaching Positive approach now embodies the philosophy, neuroscience, and education theories of Dr. Alfred Adler, Dr. Jane Nelsen, Dr. Daniel Siegel, John Dewey, Dr. Debra Stipek, Dr. Carol Dweck, and Dr. Daniel Goleman. Combined the approach strives to build the capacity of each individual to lead a path of individual authenticity with a social context of celebrating democratic values and multicultural diversity.
Dr. Tammy Keces was the founding Head of School at Irvine Hebrew Day School, a Positive Discipline Lab School. IHDS is a high-achieving K-8 WASC accredited school, grounded in Positive Discipline.
Tammy holds a B.A. in Psychology from UCLA, a M.A. from Teachers College, Columbia University in Curriculum and Instruction and a Clear California Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and Administrative Services Credential. Tammy received her doctorate in Educational Leadership from California State University, Fullerton.
Tammy's dissertation titled "TEACHERS' PERCEPTIONS OF THEIR SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL COMPETENCIES AND SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING PRACTICES" can be found here: https://zenodo.org/record/5118036#.YtrrU-zMK8U
The purpose of this qualitative study was to better understand the perspectives of teachers' social-emotional competencies, the development of social-emotional competencies, and the practice and implementation of social and emotional learning (SEL). Structured interviews were conducted with ten teachers and four administrators at four different schools (public, private and charter). The teacher participants completed a social-emotional self-reflection tool in order to triangulate the data. The study findings suggested that teachers received insufficient SEL training and limited SEL modeling in their preservice program. Recommendations were made to enable teachers at various stages throughout their career to build social emotional competencies, such as self-regulation and modeling of SEL skills, so that they may teach them to their students.
Tammy’s language arts curriculum is featured in “Positive Discipline in the School and Classroom” (4th edition) by Jane Nelsen and the “Problem Solving Wheel of Choice Program” also by Nelsen. Tammy was honored to write the forward to Positive Discipline Tools for Teachers. She is on the Advisory Board of the Orange County Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and has presented Positive Discipline workshops at the California Charter School Association, Orange County Private School Association, New Mom School, Mom's of Multiples Group, Stowell Learning Center, Jewish Community Center and more.
Tammy enjoys spending her free time with her family in her organic vegetable garden, cooking, playing board games or hanging out the beach with her husband Matthew and her three children Maya, Natasha and Colby (all proudly raised in a Positive Discipline home).
Dr. Tammy Keces is the founder and lead educator at Teaching Positive
“Our wish is that you, like Tammy, find your path with the help of Positive Discipline to positively influence your world and the world of your students"
"Tammy turned out to be the most amazing trainer I have ever met. She conducted whole staff trainings, director support meetings, teacher observations and individual coaching sessions with teachers. She was flexible, knowledgeable, fearless and fun. She provided support and skills in an engaging and authentic way and the staff admired and trusted her instantly. She cared deeply about each staff member and could clearly identify their individual needs and provide information and modeling to remedy a variety of issues we were facing. Additionally she supported me to find ways to work with the variety of skill levels of my staff. Tammy always has a positive attitude and is understanding and caring with others."
"Tammy is an incredibly friendly and kind person. Even as a consultant to our staff, it was a pleasure to observe the positive rapport and working relationships she built with staff, students and our community. As an administrator, it is evident that she cares equally about the quality of her relationships with all stakeholders as she does about providing students with quality curriculum and instruction. Tammy is well-versed with our transition to the Common Core and has been extremely helpful in coaching teachers in making the necessary instructional shifts."
Dr. Marc Ecker Ph.D, Faculty at Cal State University, Fullerton & Former Superintendent of Fountain Valley Unified School District~ " Tammy is an outstanding educational leader, and one who wants to improve on ineffective practices for all students."
Dr. Dina Eletrby, Head of School, New Horizon, Irvine, CA.~ " Tammy's love and enthusiasm for teaching is contagious, and her dedication to Positive Discipline is unmatched"
Elementary School Teacher~ "I appreciated all the resources, links, handouts and helpful real-life suggestions and applications of how to use the tools in our classroom. Tammy personalized the material and answered our questions thoroughly. She clearly cares about students and is passionate about the model."
High School Teacher~ " Tammy is amazing! It would be so incredible for every high school teacher to participate in this workshop. I loved the activities that we can use immediately with our students. I feel so encouraged and confident that I can take what I learned and apply these skills to my classroom."
Middle School, School Counselor~ " Tammy communicated all the information with enthusiasm, patience and subject knowledge expertise. She demonstrated what she was teaching and showed me how to build off of the existing RTI systems I have in place."
PRIZMAH Center for Jewish Day Schools/ HaYidion:
The Prizmah Journal / Catalyzing Resources- Fall 2018
OC Jlife Articles:
Can’t Stop the Party- May 30, 2020
Stepping Up- May 4, 2020
Everyday Celebrations- May 31, 2019
Practicing Mindfulness- March 1, 2019
Irvine Hebrew Day School- May 31, 2018
Positive Discipline- September 20, 2107
The Four Sons- March 29, 2017
Israel Mini Maker Faire- March 1, 2017
An Attitude of Gratitude- February 1, 2017
The Over Scheduler- December 30, 2016
Stoking the Artisitc Flame- June 30, 2016
Life Skills Summer Camp- May 31, 2016
Between Preschool and College- May 31, 2016
Jewish Interactive: 18 Minute Leaders
Positive Discipline in the Classroom- Jane Nelsen
Conclusion Written by Tammy Keces
Positive Discipline Tools for Teachers- Jane Nelsen
Forward Written by Tammy Keces