Using Progress Monitoring to Increase Student Achievement

Friday, August 18, 2023 No comments

 In the ever-evolving landscape of education, the pursuit of academic excellence remains a fundamental goal. As Middle and High School English Language Arts (ELA) and Reading teachers, fostering student achievement is at the heart of your mission. To effectively support your students' learning journeys, implementing progress monitoring strategies is essential. By tracking individual student progress, you can make informed instructional decisions, provide targeted interventions, and create a dynamic learning environment that propels student success. In this blog post, we will delve into the concept of progress monitoring and explore its practical applications within the ELA and Reading context.

Understanding Progress Monitoring:

Progress monitoring involves systematically and consistently collecting data on student performance to assess their growth over time. This data-driven approach allows educators to gain insights into students' strengths, areas of improvement, and overall progress toward specific learning goals. By utilizing progress monitoring, teachers can tailor their instructional strategies, identify areas that require intervention, and celebrate the successes of their students.

Benefits of Progress Monitoring:

Informed Instructional Decisions:

Progress monitoring equips teachers with real-time data on student performance. This information empowers educators to adjust their teaching methods, materials, and pacing to better meet the needs of individual students.

Early Intervention:

Identifying struggling students early on allows for timely intervention. With progress monitoring data, teachers can provide targeted support, address learning gaps, and prevent students from falling behind.

Goal Setting and Motivation:

Clearly defined goals and measurable progress indicators motivate students to take ownership of their learning. Progress monitoring helps students visualize their growth and instills a sense of achievement.

Accountability and Communication:

Progress monitoring fosters open communication between teachers, students, and parents. Regular updates on student progress encourage transparency and collaboration, enabling stakeholders to work together to support each student's success.

Progress Monitoring Strategies for ELA and Reading Teachers:

Regular Formative Assessments:

Incorporate regular formative assessments, such as quizzes, exit tickets, and class discussions, to gauge student understanding and identify areas of difficulty. Analyze the results to inform your instructional decisions.

Reading Fluency Checks:

Use tools like running records or oral reading assessments to measure students' reading fluency. By tracking accuracy, rate, and prosody, you can assess their progress in decoding and comprehension.

Writing Portfolios:

Maintain writing portfolios that showcase students' growth over time. Regularly review and provide feedback on their written work, focusing on areas for improvement and celebrating achievements.

Data-Driven Discussions:

Engage students in discussions about their progress data. Encourage them to set goals, reflect on their performance, and develop strategies for improvement.

Individual Learning Plans:

Create individualized learning plans based on progress monitoring data. Tailor assignments, activities, and interventions to address specific learning needs.

Reading Assessments:

Administer formal reading assessments, such as standardized tests or diagnostic tools, to gather comprehensive data on students' reading abilities and pinpoint areas for growth.

Technology-Enhanced Tools:

Leverage educational technology tools that offer progress monitoring features. Platforms like Google Forms, Quizlet, or digital reading programs can automate data collection and analysis.

Progress monitoring is a powerful tool that empowers Middle and High School ELA and Reading teachers to make informed instructional decisions, provide targeted interventions, and foster a culture of continuous improvement. By incorporating regular formative assessments, reading fluency checks, writing portfolios, and data-driven discussions, you can create a personalized learning experience that maximizes student achievement. As educators, your dedication to progress monitoring ensures that each student's learning journey is supported and optimized, leading to enhanced literacy skills, academic growth, and a lifelong love for learning.

Remember, progress monitoring is not only a means to measure success but also a catalyst for cultivating success. Through thoughtful implementation and utilization of progress monitoring strategies, you contribute to the academic excellence and personal growth of your students.


Fuchs, L. S., & Fuchs, D. (2007). A model for implementing responsiveness to intervention. Teaching Exceptional Children, 39(5), 14-20.

Shinn, M. R., & Good, R. H. (1992). Curriculum-based measurement of oral reading fluency: A confirmatory analysis of its relation to reading. School Psychology Review, 21(3), 459-479.

VanDerHeyden, A. M., & Witt, J. C. (2005). The influence of graphing performance data on intervention efficacy. Psychology in the Schools, 42(3), 263-272.

Latham, A. S. (2016). Data collection and progress monitoring: A focus on individualized learning. Kappa Delta Pi Record, 52(4), 159-163.

Stecker, P. M., Lembke, E. S., & Foegen, A. (2008). Using curriculum-based measurement to establish growth standards for students with learning disabilities. School Psychology Review, 37(4), 497-512.

Using Technology in the Classroom: Tools and Tips for Middle and High School English Language Arts and Reading Teachers

Wednesday, August 16, 2023 No comments

 In today's digital age, integrating technology into the classroom has become a powerful tool for enhancing teaching and learning experiences. Middle and high school English Language Arts (ELA) and reading teachers have a unique opportunity to leverage technology to engage and empower their students. From interactive learning platforms to digital writing tools, technology can open new avenues for exploration and creativity. In this blog post, we will explore various ways in which technology can be effectively incorporated into the ELA and reading curriculum, along with valuable tips and tools for success.

Enhancing Learning with Technology:

Interactive Reading and Writing Platforms:

Utilize online platforms that offer interactive reading and writing activities. Platforms like Google Docs, Padlet, and Edmodo allow students to collaborate on assignments, share their work, and provide feedback in real time. This fosters a sense of community and encourages peer learning.

Digital Literature Circles:

Transform traditional literature circles into digital discussions. Platforms like Flipgrid enable students to record video responses to prompts or questions related to assigned readings. This approach enhances communication skills and encourages thoughtful analysis.

E-Books and Audiobooks:

Integrate e-books and audiobooks into your curriculum to cater to diverse learning styles. Websites like Project Gutenberg and LibriVox provide free access to a wide range of literary classics, allowing students to engage with texts in various formats.

Online Writing Workshops:

Host virtual writing workshops using platforms like Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Students can share their writing, receive feedback, and engage in peer editing sessions. This approach provides an authentic writing community that extends beyond the classroom.

Digital Annotation Tools:

Encourage active reading by using digital annotation tools like Hypothesis or Kami. These tools allow students to annotate texts digitally, making notes, highlighting important passages, and engaging in discussions within the text itself.

Interactive Quizzes and Polls:

Incorporate platforms like Kahoot! and Quizlet to create interactive quizzes and polls that assess comprehension and vocabulary. Gamified learning experiences enhance student engagement and retention.

Tips for Effective Integration:

Purposeful Selection of Tools:

Choose technology tools that align with your learning objectives. Consider the specific skills you want your students to develop and select tools that support those goals.

Scaffold Technology Use:

Provide clear instructions and demonstrations for using new technology tools. Consider starting with simple activities before progressing to more complex tasks.

Foster Digital Citizenship:

Teach students about responsible digital behavior, including proper online etiquette, respectful communication, and citing digital sources. Emphasize the importance of using technology responsibly and ethically.

Differentiate Instruction:

Utilize technology to differentiate instruction based on individual student needs. Personalized learning platforms like Khan Academy or Newsela can help tailor content to various proficiency levels.

Encourage Collaboration:

Promote collaborative projects and group activities through technology. Tools like Google Slides, Microsoft OneDrive, or Padlet enable students to work together seamlessly, regardless of their physical location.

Provide Timely Feedback:

Use technology to provide timely and constructive feedback on assignments. Apps like Turnitin or Grammarly can assist in evaluating writing mechanics, while audio or video feedback tools enhance the personal connection.

Incorporating technology into the middle and high school ELA and reading curriculum can open doors to innovative and dynamic learning experiences. From interactive platforms to digital annotation tools, technology offers an array of possibilities for engaging students and enhancing their literacy skills. By purposefully selecting tools, scaffolding technology use, and fostering digital citizenship, teachers can create a learning environment that empowers students to thrive in the digital world while honing their English Language Arts and reading skills.

As educators, embracing technology allows us to connect with students on their terms, leverage their digital fluency, and prepare them for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.


Hughes-Hassell, S., & Rodge, P. (2018). Using Technology to Support Literacy Instruction. ALA Editions.

Rosen, D., & Bloxham, S. (2018). Beyond Digital Natives and Immigrants: Exploring Types of Learners and Learning Literacies. E-Learning and Digital Media, 15(2), 84-103.

Cavanaugh, T. W., & Song, L. (2018). A meta-analysis of interactive engagement techniques in web-based learning. Computers & Education, 118, 111-135.

Karchmer, R. A., & Hauser, S. E. (2018). Digital writing and diversity: Challenges and opportunities. Literacy Research: Theory, Method, and Practice, 67(1), 41-56.

Warschauer, M. (2003). Technology and social inclusion: Rethinking the digital divide. MIT Press.

Balancing Work and Self-Care as a Teacher

Monday, August 14, 2023 No comments

 Teaching is a rewarding and fulfilling profession that comes with its own set of challenges. As educators, teachers dedicate themselves to nurturing the growth and development of their students. However, in the pursuit of providing quality education, it's crucial for teachers to prioritize their own well-being and practice self-care. Balancing the demands of work with taking care of oneself is essential for maintaining physical and mental health, preventing burnout, and ensuring long-term success in the classroom. In this blog post, we will explore effective strategies for balancing work and self-care as a teacher.

The Importance of Self-Care for Teachers:

  1. Preventing Burnout: Teachers often invest significant time and energy in their classrooms, which can lead to burnout if not balanced with self-care. Burnout can result in physical and emotional exhaustion, reduced job satisfaction, and decreased effectiveness in teaching.

  2. Enhancing Well-Being: Prioritizing self-care contributes to overall well-being. Engaging in activities that promote relaxation, joy, and fulfillment can improve mental health and emotional resilience.

  3. Improving Teaching Effectiveness: When teachers take care of themselves, they are better equipped to handle the challenges of the classroom. A healthy and rested mind is more creative, adaptable, and effective in delivering quality education.

Strategies for Balancing Work and Self-Care:

  1. Set Boundaries: Establish clear boundaries between work and personal time. Designate specific hours for lesson planning, grading, and other work-related tasks, and stick to them. Use the remaining time to focus on relaxation, hobbies, and spending time with loved ones.

  2. Prioritize Tasks: Create a to-do list and prioritize tasks based on their urgency and importance. Delegate tasks when possible and avoid overloading yourself with unnecessary responsibilities.

  3. Learn to Say No: It's important to recognize your limits and be comfortable saying no when your plate is full. Overcommitting can lead to stress and hinder your ability to engage in self-care activities.

  4. Practice Mindfulness and Meditation: Engage in mindfulness exercises or meditation to reduce stress and enhance self-awareness. Even a few minutes of deep breathing or meditation can help you stay centered and calm.

  5. Stay Active: Regular physical activity is essential for maintaining both physical and mental health. Engage in exercises you enjoy, whether it's yoga, jogging, dancing, or going for a walk.

  6. Pursue Hobbies and Interests: Make time for activities you love outside of teaching. Engaging in hobbies, whether it's painting, playing a musical instrument, or gardening, can provide a refreshing break from work-related responsibilities.

  7. Connect with Others: Build a support network by connecting with colleagues, friends, and family. Sharing experiences, seeking advice, and spending time with loved ones can help alleviate stress and provide emotional support.

  8. Unplug and Disconnect: Set aside designated times to disconnect from technology, especially emails and work-related messages. Use this time to recharge and engage in activities that bring you joy.

  9. Seek Professional Development: Invest in your professional growth by attending workshops, conferences, and courses. Enhancing your teaching skills and knowledge can boost your confidence and job satisfaction.

Balancing work and self-care is a vital aspect of being an effective and fulfilled teacher. By prioritizing self-care, you not only benefit your own well-being but also create a positive impact on your students and the learning environment. As educators, it's important to recognize that taking care of yourself is not a luxury but a necessity. Implementing strategies such as setting boundaries, practicing mindfulness, staying active, and pursuing hobbies can help you strike a healthy balance between your professional responsibilities and personal well-being.

Remember, self-care is an ongoing practice that requires conscious effort and commitment. By valuing your own well-being, you set a positive example for your students and contribute to a more vibrant and thriving educational community.


  1. Jennings, P. A., Frank, J. L., Snowberg, K. E., Coccia, M. A., & Greenberg, M. T. (2013). Improving classroom learning environments by cultivating awareness and resilience in education (CARE): Results of a randomized controlled trial. School Psychology Quarterly, 28(4), 374-390.

  2. Dicke, T., Marsh, H. W., Riley, P., Parker, P. D., Guo, J., & Horwood, M. (2017). Self-concept of ability moderates relations between (micro-) classroom goal structures and test emotions. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 51, 42-51.

  3. Kyriacou, C. (2001). Teacher stress: Directions for future research. Educational Review, 53(1), 27-35.

  4. Maslach, C., Schaufeli, W. B., & Leiter, M. P. (2001). Job burnout. Annual Review of Psychology, 52(1), 397-422.

  5. Valcour, M. (2007). Work-based resources as moderators of the relationship between work hours and satisfaction with work-family balance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92(6), 1512-1523.

Preparing for Open House and Meet-the-Teacher Night

Friday, August 11, 2023 No comments

Open House and Meet-the-Teacher Night are exciting events that provide an opportunity for teachers, parents, and students to come together and establish a strong foundation for the school year. These events offer valuable insights into the classroom environment, the teacher's teaching philosophy, and the upcoming curriculum. As a teacher, proper preparation for Open House and Meet-the-Teacher Night is essential to make a positive impression and create a welcoming atmosphere. In this blog post, we will explore practical tips and strategies to ensure that these events are successful and foster a collaborative partnership between teachers and parents.

Organize Your Classroom:

A well-organized and inviting classroom sets the stage for a positive experience during Open House and Meet-the-Teacher Night. Make sure that the room is tidy, with desks or tables arranged in a way that encourages interaction. Display student work and classroom decorations that reflect the upcoming themes and topics. Provide areas for parents to sign up for volunteering opportunities or to leave contact information for communication throughout the year.

Prepare an Informative Presentation:

Create a concise and engaging presentation that highlights key aspects of your teaching style, curriculum plans, classroom procedures, and communication strategies. Use visuals and examples to illustrate your points effectively. Share your enthusiasm for the subjects you teach and showcase how you plan to inspire and motivate your students.

Introduce Yourself and Share Your Background:

At the start of the event, introduce yourself to parents and briefly share your teaching experience and educational background. This introduction helps build rapport and establishes your credibility as an educator. If you need help understanding what to include then try our Virtual Meet The Teacher which can be used in-person or for online courses. 

Create Parent Information Packets:

Prepare parent information packets that include essential documents such as the class syllabus, contact information, school policies, important dates, and details about extracurricular activities. Providing these packets shows parents that you value their involvement and want to keep them informed throughout the year.

Set Up Hands-On Activities:

Incorporate interactive and hands-on activities that parents can participate in alongside their children. Demonstrating fun and engaging learning experiences showcases your teaching methods and allows parents to understand how their child will be involved in the learning process.

Address Common Parent Concerns:

Anticipate common parent concerns and be prepared to address them during your presentation. Topics such as homework expectations, grading policies, and classroom behavior management are often of interest to parents.

Be Approachable and Responsive:

During the event, be approachable and open to questions and conversations with parents. Take the time to listen to their concerns and respond thoughtfully. Demonstrating your willingness to collaborate and support their child's education can build trust and a positive relationship with parents.

Establish Communication Channels:

Clearly communicate the various channels through which parents can reach out to you, such as email, phone calls, or school communication platforms. Reiterate your commitment to maintaining open lines of communication throughout the school year.

Provide Refreshments:

Consider offering light refreshments during the event. This gesture creates a more relaxed and social atmosphere, encouraging parents to mingle and interact with each other.


Open House and Meet-the-Teacher Night are invaluable opportunities for teachers to connect with parents and students, fostering a collaborative partnership that supports student success. By organizing your classroom, preparing an informative presentation, and creating parent information packets, you can make a positive impression and establish a welcoming environment. Engaging parents through interactive activities and addressing their concerns with openness and responsiveness strengthens the bond between home and school. With proper preparation and a friendly attitude, these events can lay the foundation for a successful and enriching school year for all stakeholders involved.


Gruber, K. J., & Yeh, C. J. (2016). Parent involvement in early schooling: Conceptualization, measurement, and intervention. Review of Educational Research, 86(4), 1071-1101.

Epstein, J. L., Sanders, M. G., Simon, B. S., Salinas, K. C., Jansorn, N. R., & Van Voorhis, F. L. (2002). School, family, and community partnerships: Your handbook for action (2nd ed.). Corwin Press.

Henderson, A. T., & Berla, N. (Eds.). (1994). A new generation of evidence: The family is critical to student achievement. Center for Law and Education.

Senechal, M. (2012). Parent involvement in early education: A review of the literature. Canadian Journal of Education, 35(4), 398-416.

Parent-Teacher Communication: Tips for a Collaborative Partnership

Wednesday, August 9, 2023 No comments

 Effective parent-teacher communication is essential for creating a successful and supportive learning environment for students. When parents and teachers work collaboratively, they can better understand and support a child's educational journey. A strong partnership between parents and teachers fosters a sense of trust, open communication, and shared responsibility. In this blog post, we will explore the importance of parent-teacher communication and provide tips and examples of icebreaker activities that teachers can use to initiate and nurture this valuable collaborative partnership.

                              Image Credits: Freepik

The Significance of Parent-Teacher Communication:

Holistic Support for Students:

When parents and teachers communicate regularly, they can combine their insights and expertise to provide comprehensive support for the child's academic, social, and emotional development. This holistic approach ensures that students receive consistent guidance both in school and at home.

Better Understanding of Students:

Parents possess unique insights into their child's personality, interests, strengths, and challenges. Sharing this information with teachers can help educators tailor their teaching methods to meet the individual needs of each student, promoting a more personalized learning experience.

Early Identification of Challenges:

Open communication between parents and teachers allows for early identification of any academic or behavioral challenges that a student may be facing. Promptly addressing these issues can prevent them from escalating and help students overcome obstacles more effectively.

Reinforcement of Learning:

When parents are informed about classroom activities and lessons, they can reinforce learning at home. This involvement strengthens the connection between school and home, fostering a positive attitude towards education in students.

Tips for Building a Collaborative Partnership:

Establish Clear Channels of Communication:

Provide multiple avenues for parents to communicate with you, such as email, phone calls, virtual meetings, or in-person conferences. Inform parents of your preferred method of communication and be responsive to their messages.

Initiate Communication Early in the School Year:

Start the school year by reaching out to parents with a welcoming message. Share your teaching philosophy, classroom policies, and ways they can support their child's learning at home. This proactive approach sets a positive tone for the partnership.

Schedule Regular Updates:

Set a schedule for regular updates on students' progress, both academically and behaviorally. This could include progress reports, newsletters, or individual conferences. Consistent communication keeps parents informed and engaged in their child's education.

Be Positive and Solution-Oriented:

When discussing any challenges a student may face, approach the conversation with a positive and solution-oriented mindset. Focus on the child's strengths and discuss strategies for improvement collaboratively.

Celebrate Achievements Together:

Acknowledge and celebrate students' achievements with both parents and students. This recognition strengthens the sense of community and reinforces the positive aspects of the learning experience.

Icebreaker Activities for Parent-Teacher Communication:

Parent Information Sheet:

At the beginning of the school year, ask parents to fill out a parent information sheet that includes questions about their child's interests, hobbies, and learning preferences. This information can help you personalize the learning experience and start conversations about shared interests.

Meet-and-Greet Night:

Host a meet-and-greet night where parents can come to the school and have informal conversations with you. Use icebreaker activities like "Two Truths and a Lie" or "Find Someone Who" to encourage mingling and connection among parents.

Family Sharing Time:

Designate a time during parent-teacher conferences for students to share their work, projects, or achievements with their parents. This activity promotes student-led discussions and provides a sense of pride and ownership in their learning journey.

Parent-Teacher Book Club:

Start a parent-teacher book club where parents and teachers can read and discuss books related to education, child development, or learning strategies. This initiative allows for deeper conversations and shared insights.


Effective parent-teacher communication is a powerful tool for creating a collaborative partnership that supports student success. By establishing clear communication channels, initiating regular updates, and celebrating achievements together, parents and teachers can work as a cohesive team to provide the best possible learning experience for students. Utilizing icebreaker activities, both in the classroom and during parent-teacher events, can initiate meaningful conversations and foster a sense of camaraderie among all stakeholders in the educational journey.

When parents and teachers unite with a shared commitment to a child's growth and development, students benefit from a holistic and enriching educational experience.


Henderson, A. T., & Berla, N. (Eds.). (1994). A new generation of evidence: The family is critical to student achievement. Center for Law and Education.

Epstein, J. L., Sanders, M. G., Simon, B. S., Salinas, K. C., Jansorn, N. R., & Van Voorhis, F. L. (2002). School, family, and community partnerships: Your handbook for action (2nd ed.). Corwin Press.

Mapp, K. L., & Kuttner, P. J. (2013). Partners in education: A dual capacity-building framework for family–school partnerships. Harvard Family Research Project.

The Power of Icebreakers: Building Connections with Students

Monday, August 7, 2023 No comments

 The beginning of a new school year is a crucial time for teachers to foster a positive and inclusive classroom culture. Establishing strong connections with students from day one can lead to a more engaged and productive learning environment throughout the year. One of the most effective ways to achieve this is through the power of icebreakers. Icebreaker activities are fun, interactive, and purposeful exercises that enable students to get to know each other, build trust, and create a sense of community. In this blog post, we will explore the significance of icebreakers in building connections with students and provide examples of creative activities that teachers can use in their classrooms.

Image Credits: Freepik

The Importance of Icebreakers:

  1. Fostering a Welcoming Environment: Icebreakers are a great way to break down barriers and create a warm and welcoming atmosphere in the classroom. They help students feel more comfortable and relaxed, encouraging them to open up and interact with their peers.

  2. Building Relationships: Icebreakers allow students to learn more about each other's interests, experiences, and backgrounds. By sharing personal stories and engaging in collaborative tasks, students begin to form connections and establish positive relationships.

  3. Promoting Inclusivity: Icebreakers are designed to be inclusive and can be adapted to accommodate students of diverse abilities and backgrounds. These activities celebrate differences and create a sense of belonging for every student in the classroom.

  4. Enhancing Communication Skills: Icebreakers often involve communication and active listening, which are essential skills for effective interpersonal relationships. Through these activities, students practice expressing their thoughts and ideas while learning to respect others' perspectives.

  5. Boosting Confidence: Participating in icebreakers can help shy or introverted students feel more confident and supported in the classroom. These activities create a safe space for students to express themselves without fear of judgment.

Examples of Icebreaker Activities:

  1. Two Truths and a Lie: In this classic icebreaker, each student shares three statements about themselves: two true and one false. The rest of the class must guess which statement is the lie. This activity not only helps students learn more about each other but also encourages critical thinking and observation skills.

  2. All About Me Collage: Ask students to create a collage that represents their interests, hobbies, and aspirations. Once completed, they can present their collages to the class, explaining the significance of each element. This activity encourages self-expression and builds confidence.

  3. Human Bingo: Create bingo cards with various statements or characteristics, such as "plays a musical instrument" or "has traveled to a different country." Students must find classmates who fit each description and have them sign the corresponding square. The first student to fill their bingo card wins. Human Bingo promotes communication and encourages students to find commonalities with their peers.

  4. Jigsaw Puzzle Introductions: Prepare large jigsaw puzzles and divide students into groups. Each group receives a puzzle piece without the image on it. The students must find their groupmates and assemble the puzzle together. Once completed, they can introduce themselves to the class. This activity emphasizes teamwork and collaboration.

  5. Speed Friending: Similar to speed dating, speed friending involves students sitting in pairs and getting to know each other for a set amount of time before rotating to meet a new partner. This activity enables students to have multiple brief interactions and discover shared interests.

  6. Escape Room Activity:

  7. Looking for a fun way to get your students moving? Want to have them collaborating at the beginning of the year? Want to leave a lasting and fun impression upon them? Look no further. The Beginning of the Year Escape Room will have students moving and working together to solve different tasks: Puzzle, Maze, Growth Mindset, and Embedded Message.


Icebreakers are a valuable tool for teachers to establish strong connections with their students and create a positive classroom culture. Through fun and engaging activities, students get to know each other, build relationships, and develop essential communication and social skills. By incorporating icebreakers from the start, teachers lay the foundation for a supportive and inclusive learning environment that fosters academic and personal growth.

As educators, we have the opportunity to nurture a sense of community and belonging among our students. By utilizing the power of icebreakers, we can set the stage for a successful and fulfilling school year filled with meaningful connections and engaged learners.


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  3. Petty, G. (2009). Teaching today: A practical guide (4th ed.). Nelson Thornes.

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  5. Wojcik, A. P., & Hulleman, C. S. (2011). Examining the relationship between personality and subjective well-being: Evidence from four countries. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2(5), 452-459.