Intentional Joy in the Classroom

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Partially inspired by this post on one of my favourite teaching blogs, and partially due to my own recognition that something is wrong, I feel the need to make a few changes in my classroom. It could be the weather, the never-ending winter we seem to be having that is drowning us in snow. It could be the stress from getting report cards done; the marking, the data collection, the hours of writing comments. It could be simply that I’ve been feeling like I’m spinning my wheels for a while. Regardless the reason, the cards or the snow, I need a change; this I know. (Okay I don’t know where the Dr. Seuss rhymes came from)

The problem is, I’m not completely sure where to start. What I want to do, is ask my students how they want to make their classroom, their school, their education better. I want to sit them down and have a chat about it. I want them to write about it. I want them to tell me, no holds barred, what do they want from their education? What do they hate about school? What do they love about school? I’m not going to change everything over-night and I’m not going to do everything the way my students want it to be, but I want to take their comments and suggestions into consideration and make some actual and hopefully meaningful changes. Here are a few things that I want to do more of to intentionally bring more joy back into my classroom:

Music – Early in the year we were doing great with this. We had a cleaning up song, a lining up song, an exercise to get us going song, used lots of music during French class and we haven’t been doing as much and I’d like to bring some more music back, not just during snack times.

Celebrating goal achievements – I’ve talked about goal setting, and we’ve done some goal setting in the class but I want to do more to celebrate when students reach their goals.

Projects – We’ve put aside our year-long learning projects because of the big Heritage Fair projects that students do at our school. However, I still want students to do an end of the year project on a topic of their choice because I want them to see that learning can be fun, especially if you get to choose what you want to learn about.

More choice/voice – I want my students to feel like they have more of a say in what they are learning and how they are learning it. I have trouble giving up that power sometimes but I know it’s important for them to have (not just feel, but actually have) ownership of their education if they’re going to learn anything.

I know I haven’t been the most joyful teacher lately. I’ve been feeling bogged down, sluggish and just plain unhappy some days and I want to change that. I know that if I want to make these changes it’s going to take work. I’m having the students work on an art collage about what they are grateful for to put up in our hallway and I hope they will help remind me and remind them of all the wonderfulness in the world.

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One thought on “Intentional Joy in the Classroom

  1. I am so excited that you will be asking your students what they want out of their education. I cannot tell you how much that simple question has fundamentally changed the way I teach. Best of luck to you, I hope more joy comes your way.

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