Joy can sometimes get lost in the checklists, schedules, and gazillions of details that need our attention in the classroom every day. And while joy may seem like a bonus extra, I believe it can be an important strategy for encouraging positive student behavior.
Magic Joy Moments
Have you ever had one of those magic moments when your students were completely “into” an activity? A light bulb moment when the class seems to “get it?” An instant of community over a shared joke or experience? Those moments are all examples of joy showing up in our classrooms.
When student are into what they are doing, or into you, their teacher, there’s little need for fancy classroom management techniques, rewards, and consequences. Students may misbehave out of ignorance, habit, or getting carried away, but that willful defiance disappears. If you think about this for a minute, you know it’s true. When you were a student, which of your teachers did you behave the best for? The playful, enthusiastic ones, or the grumpy ones? Right.
Even if you aren’t extroverted or funny, your students will still respond if you show a sense of wonder or satisfaction in what you are doing.
So where does this joy come from? Many times, it comes from you! When you’re enthusiastic about your subject, or enjoy kids, or simply like to play, your kids catch that energy from you. And even if you aren’t extroverted or funny, your students will still respond if you show a sense of wonder or satisfaction in what you are doing. In other words, geek out a little! Get excited about making a connection with a vocabulary word. Admire the beauty of a perfect geometry proof.
I once knew a teacher who was able to easily manage a very difficult student using his somewhat nerdy love of plants. I even wrote an earlier article about him. Read it here.
What if you are frustrated and have lost your joy? Sometimes, all it takes is a step back from all the intensity. Remember why you started teaching in the first place. Remember your own zesty teachers. Take a joy break!
Now let your joy shine, and go create a great day for yourself and your students!
Katrina Ayres, PositiveTeachingStratgies.com
PS – I’ve created a checklist to help you tap into your joy.
All you have to do is fill out the form below to get access to the Awesome Teacher Nation Resource Library (look in All Educators.)
You’ll get the Joy Checklist and dozens of other helpful resources, plus a classroom management hint every week.