Wednesday, October 1, 2014

31 Days of Teaching with Joy

October. You know what that means - time for the 31 Days writing challenge!

This year it's all about the job, and finding the joy in the job. Teaching with joy. More than taking pride in my job, I want to make sure there is joy in what I do, and that it's transmitted to my students. 

Why joy? Because I don't think you can teach (and love it) without it. I'm not talking about some kind of perma-grin, sing-song voice fakery, but rather true joy, an inner satisfaction that remains through good times and bad, telling me that teaching is what I'm meant to do.

This year I've got really young students. It's their first year in the Spanish school system. They're only three! I want them to have a positive school experience, to love learning. And I know they'll be teaching me along the way, how they delight in new things, small discoveries.

And lest you think I'm some kind of dippy pushover who lets the children do whatever they want, let me introduce you to day one: Don't crack a smile until Halloween.

This is some advice I received from an old (excellent) teacher of mine. I don't take it literally (um, hello? How could anyone NOT smile at 3 year olds? They are so cute, and pretty hilarious!), but I do have rules and stick to them from day one. The students need to know the rules are for real. We take turns talking, we keep our classroom tidy, we are respectful of all our classmates and WE DO NOT BITE!

Following the rules helps keep things fair and civil; everyone is calmer and happier when no one is screaming or biting their cheek.

So, Day One. Have clear, simple rules. Try to word them positively - Be quiet instead of Don't talk (the exception to this is, of course, No Biting, because really, there should be NO BITING! although I guess you could say Keep your teeth to yourself). Try to use "we" rules, because classroom behaviour applies to the teacher as well. It's no good having rules if I lose it and shout at everyone.

Repeat the rules often (we go over the rules during morning circle time - more about that later) and make sure you're communicating at an appropriate level. My class can't read, so I don't have a written list. We review orally, and I have "translated" the rules into Total Physical Response. Counting down with my fingers, three, two, one, and using the last finger to "shhh" means it's time to be quiet; when I clap three times, they clap three times and know it's time to change activities.

Be consistent and fair with the rules, and you're on your way to a joyful classroom. Check back tomorrow for The Routine... 

Please join me throughout the month to see how I find joy in teaching!

Day Two. Day Three. Day Four. Day Five. Day Six. Day Seven. Day Eight. Day Nine
Day Ten. Day Eleven. Day Twelve. Day Thirteen. Day Fourteen. Day Fifteen. Day Sixteen. Day Seventeen. Day Eighteen. Day Nineteen. Day Twenty. Day Twenty-one. Day Twenty-Two. Day Twenty-three. Day Twenty-four. Day Twenty-five. Day Twenty-Six. Day Twenty-seven. Day Twenty-eight. Day Twenty-nine. Day Thirty. Day Thirty-one.


  1. Wow thanks for the positive blog. I am a teacher as well and will certainly follow your posts.

    1. Thanks for stopping by! What grade do you teach?

  2. I am a teacher too, but I teach middle school. I also agree that you can't teach well (and love it) without joy.