Bringing Joy Back into My Classroom

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September 13, 2022

We all have opportunities each day to spread our infectious joy of teaching and learning with our students and our colleagues. However, over the last few years, we may have had a hard time focusing on the positives as we struggled to find a new way to engage our students in online learning experiences and navigate the “new normal” of living and teaching in a pandemic. Now that we are returning to a school year that feels a little more “normal” with full in person learning, I want to return to a more joyful learning and teaching experience both for myself, my students and my colleagues.
I want to be more intentional with the focus I have on finding the positives within my classroom and my school building. Of course, this does not mean that teaching does not come without struggles. On the contrary, in spite of the struggles, it is important to make a conscious effort to focus on and be mindful of the events that bring happiness to me, my students and my peers.
When our kids are in school, we want them to be empowered to feel their emotions, whether they are happy, sad, mad or anxious. But most importantly, we want them to feel a sense of joy when they achieve a goal or reach a new milestone. Learning to read, mastering their multiplication facts, writing in cursive and accomplishing goals they have set for themselves allow for confidence building and a sense of fulfillment.
I find when my students feel happy, I feel happy, as well! I am going to use this as “proof” that I am making a positive difference in my students’ lives.
Here are some of the ways I am going to focus on joy this school year:
  • Building positive, meaningful relationships with everyone: students, their families and my peers.
  • Intentionally focusing on positive experiences
  • Celebrating students with positive notes and calls home
  • Lifting and celebrating colleagues
  • Singing to my students and even my teammates
  • Telling jokes and using humor to make people smile and feel safe
  • Communicating students’ success with everyone
  • Offering genuine opportunities for students to feel safe and loved
  • Allowing students to use Project Based Learning opportunities to drive their learning and engage their community
  • Creating a safe and positive environment where joy flows freely
  • Being grateful for the opportunity to spread joy and receive it, as well!
About Nanette Hanson: I am a proud teacher with 20-plus years of varied teaching experiences in several teaching positions, from alternative high school through first grade. I work each day to build safe and supportive relationships that help kids grow and flourish while embracing each child’s needs and individuality. As Michigan Teacher of the Year 2022-23, I will strive to continue to build relationships with educational stakeholders to work toward building systems that better offer equitable, inclusive educational opportunities for all students across Michigan.