I have to remember that my energy and joy carries the day. To paraphrase a bit of folk wisdom, "If teacher ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!" I laugh, I sing (make up words to songs that exist), say it with a puppet, stop and try things that kids suggest. We act out the story, have a secret snack routine... I am better at being warm than full of fun, but I know it makes a difference when kids have fun with me.
The Joy Factors in the art room range from playing Pictionary in teams, singing a Sesame Street song about the primary colors, to mystery drawings with the kindergartners. And when time allows, the older students can create what they want to with which ever art materials they need! I love it!
Creating opportunities for joy is one of the best things about teaching. I love using my creative talents to bring music, movement, drama, and all of the arts into my classroom. I integrate 2 artistic expressions everyday into our learning. Celebrating learning is so important whether one-one-one with a student or with the whole class. I also love to plan suspense and surprise activities with my students. I build suspense when I introduce the schedule for the day and hint at fun things we will do throughout the day. First graders are so fun and willing to participate in just about anything!
Alison, I agree that creating opportunities for joy is one of the best things about teaching! When I first started teaching, one of my favorite books was Joyful Learning. The best learning happens when students are engaged and enjoy what they are doing. Joy happens in kindergarten when they are playing math games, acting out stories, "helping" Mrs. Langreck remember all the stuff she forgets, laughing together and celebrating each other's hard work.
Karen- I love the "helping" part. My kids love being silly about catching me make a mistake. I think it keeps them engaged to see if they can catch it. And what a great way to know they are acquiring concepts!
I love the idea of integrating more suspense and surprise in little ways. You inspire me to try to do this more. One of my groups of students is so schedule-oriented, that they don't usually find joy in not knowing what is next. Need to work on enjoying going with the flow more and allowing ourselves to be surprised. :)
I really enjoyed reading this section of our book. It is such a fun aspect of our job, especially with primary students! One way I create joy in my classroom is by sharing my environmental education experience with my students. I love sharing my passion for nature with my class by taking them outdoors on Friday mornings and doing/discussing nature as much as possible!
I think kids can sense whether I'm truly having fun while teaching or not. The fact that I love being here and learning from them is a bonus. But, we take the time to share a bit about ourselves after returning from a weekend. We check in. I weave stories about my life and my own children into our learning when I can. I try to notice, really notice, each student each day. I only see them for an hour at a time, so I do a lot of making fun of myself or laughing at my mistakes. Students create Kahoots (online tech quiz show) on their own and get to share in class at appropriate times during reading. Students in math love to play games, so I try to make games out of problems we're doing. One game we play is "Question That!" Basically, I put the answer up on the board; usually it's related to a topic that we are studying or something we've read or discussed. For example, we read an article about sugar and childhood obesity and diseases. I put the word "sugar" up on the board and students created questions that could have "sugar" as the answer. It differentiates itself, and even if a student didn't read, he can still come up with a question with the answer of sugar. It is engaging and we usually end up laughing together during this activity. :)
Emily- I think the "sense" piece is so big. Anytime i feel like our day has been off or they have been particularly ansty - it is usually because of me!!! My mood and approach to them effects the class atmosphere soo much!
I almost forgot to mention that we do yoga. Lots of funny yoga poses. I like to incorporate movement whenever possible. And it doesn't hurt to sprinkle bits of mindset work. Kids find joy in the poses, or at least in how silly their teacher looks doing some of them.
Creating joy is one of the best parts of the day! Greeting the group on the floor, saying the vocab words in a silly sentence, saying something wrong to see if they catch it, celebrating the little accomplishments, handing out cougar cash in celebration of meeting a target...these are all ways I try to make the lit lab a great place to be!
For me, much of the day's joy comes from the students themselves. Being in the moment and allowing myself and the students time to laugh and enjoy a student’s joke or funny story brings happiness. I also think humorous read alouds tend to lend themselves to adding joy. Every time I read The BFG and students hear what “whizzpoppers” are, they are in stitches, bursting to share what word their family uses when someone makes a “whizzpopper.” I also see lots of smiles when I put on GoNoodle. It’s so great to see kids start dancing and singing to the music. If some rare student or two is standing still, it’s hard for them to remain that way, especially when I shimmy up next to them and show them a few of my moves. ;)
I agree with everyone that our attitudes as teachers impacts how the students feel and learn. It's silly but I try to smile a lot and show my excitement for what we're learning. Of course it has to be authentic or kiddos will see right through you. I also love to incorporate movement (brain breaks using gonoodle.com, yoga, freeze dance etc...). I also love playing group games for review like jeopardy. Tomorrow I am getting a new student, so I'm going to do a few ice breakers and name games throughout this week to try to reinforce our class community. Sometimes after a long break it's tough for all of us to get excited about coming to school (kiddos and teachers alike), so it's a good time to not only review classroom expectations but also to refresh the class dynamic.
I love music, so I include it often in my classroom. As a primary teacher I used it to help teach, but I use it more often with the older kids to just bring light and joy into the classroom. I love to use (appropriate) videos that go along with music to discuss the stories that the artist is telling. I use this as a conversation starter in writing or reading. I also show my kids a funny video at least once a week, just for the sheer pleasure of sharing the gift of laughter.
Everyone has so many great thoughts. I do many of the things already talked about. You are so right that your approach and attitude/mood is a huge influence on them. I think I bring the most joy in being silly and positive. Although my loud manners can bring the tone up quite a bit in my classroom at times, I believe this is part of what allows my kindergarteners to be themselves. " If Mrs; Dolgin can be loud and silly - and make mistakes, then it's ok for me too!". I have some strong boundaries set that they respect, but they know we have fun evey day.
I believe the way we approach life and learning has a huge impact on students. I am very excited and generally interested in the topics we are learning. Providing students with a role model that genuinely enjoys learning does wonders for the children's interest level and engagement. I enjoy showing the children real world connections to their learning and that education can open doors for them that they never really new existed.