Monday, November 17, 2014

Happy Classrooms

joyIn Create Joyful Space from Practical Theory, Chris Lehmann  shares,

“I believe deeply that kids — and adults — can work hard in service of things they care about. I believe deeply that we, as people, can understand how meaningful, powerful work can be joyful, even when it’s hard.”

Just because something is hard work, doesn’t mean it isn’t fun! I have seen many classrooms where teachers never crack a smile because they believe if they smile, students won’t take them seriously or respect them. Some have told me that if it is fun, they aren’t working their students hard enough. This is not the way to prepare our students for the real world. This is not reality.

Some teachers don’t seem to even enjoy teaching and are just there for a paycheck or to reach retirement age. I feel so sorry for them. They aren’t happy so their classrooms reflect their attitude. Like a rolling snowball, this affects the students’ attitudes and behaviors. I like to walk by classrooms and look in the window. It warms my heart to see students looking happy while they learn. Usually the teacher has them engaged in some activity or is very animated while teaching. The teacher sets the tone for the classroom.

I want to set a good example for my students. By showing them that I appreciate my job and that I enjoy it can help them see that having the right career that suits them is important. They will learn how important it is to be happy in your job. Happy classrooms are the starting point for a student’s career exploration.
I’m not saying that because I smile and laugh that my job isn’t hard. Teaching is hard work. But I enjoy the challenge. I enjoy watching students understand concepts that they struggled with before. I like to watch them discover new learning and learn more about themselves in the process.

Sometimes boring paperwork is involved. Even going to boring meetings is required. That is part of the responsibilities I have in order to be a teacher. But the overall rewards heavily outweigh the inconveniences.

I love to smile and laugh with my students. Sharing the joy helps my students be more relaxed and receptive to new learning. If I’m stressed out and beat “serious” into them, my students seem to shut down. They don’t seem to remember as much and aren’t even willing to risk taking a chance of making an error. I want my students to see that an error isn’t a terror. That we all make mistakes but that is part of learning. As long as no one is hurt, we need to jump right in and try again. If we can’t succeed alone, it is alright to ask for help.

How do you feel about happy classrooms? Do you think they are important or not? If so, what do you do to make your classroom a happy environment? Please share.

Image: 'Happy lane'
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