There is always this great satisfaction I believe we get whenever we see our students joyful. No teacher would like to get into a classroom and see the students looking all surly and disinterested. Not for a profession where people put in huge efforts and do such crucial work.
We all wish to have more joy and less struggle in our interactions with those we are trying to nurture but it’s not easy as it sounds. Joy is something that should be created and incorporated into them as much as possible.
That said, here are 15 ways you might find useful whenever you are stressed, uncertain, or in great difficulty to bring back joy into your classroom;
Togetherness and harmless fraternity brings about trust and interdependence and can lead to joy. Engage them with activities that will involve making decisions together or making researches. Dividing them into groups also helps.
2. YOU DON’T HAVE TO GRADE EVERYTHING
This is something most teachers make mistakes in. Stop trying to grade and record every exercise/assessment you give to them to avoid unhealthy competitions amongst them. It’s always fun to have them trying to compare and contrast and tease one another. Believe me, they will learn and also have fun.
3. GIVE OPTIONAL WORK
Homework is a good example.
Of course, giving more assignments doesn’t seem like it’d lead to joy but the idea is that they will have the opportunity to grow and improve. They can decide to understand more about things they are curious about or have passion for. In conclusion, optional work is a kind of freedom to grow and expand one’s knowledge.
4. IDENTIFY EACH CHILD’S NEEDS
Some students are smart (very), some are in average positions, some find it difficult to easily grasp what has been taught while some are fragile and need to be handled with utmost care. Do not leave any child behind, desist from ignoring the ones who barely answer questions or mostly gets nothing in his grades, and give your full concentration on their counterparts. It’s not always easy to know what they need and when for every child is on their own schedule no matter how much you push. Have a big heart and give all a chance to grow.
5. TEACH WITH MINDFULNESS
Among other ideas, mindfulness is about paying attention on purpose to the present moment. Once in awhile try to have a meditation period to allow them to assimilate and bring their five senses to life.
6. READ OUT LOUD AND CLEAR
There’s always this joy derived from being read to. From short stories to picture books, essays or plays. Reading funny, interesting, heart-warming things and imitating actions where necessary is a simple way to bring joy back into your classroom.
7. LET YOUR CLASSROOM BECOME A SAFE PLACE
As much as you can, make your classroom safe from bullying, sarcastic remarks that might hurt your student’s feelings. Try to introduce laughter, humility, conversation, and growth for better learning.
Give the students tasks that will push them, not just to test them. By doing this, they will strive to be the best and you can also give them gifts and rewards to make it all the fun.
9. DANCE BREAKS
Sometimes, in between classes, pitch in a song to buttress a point or to relieve stress and restlessness if noticed.
10. INTRODUCE HUMOUR
Tell jokes. Laugh TOO. Tell funny stories, poems, and plays either fictional or your personal story.
11. CONSIDER GIVING ADDITIVE GRADES
Embedded in the idea of additive grading is hope for students who might have been performing poorly. While teaching, you might ask a difficult question and award a little mark to whoever or it might be something you have once asked in the classroom and they seem to have forgotten. With this alternative to ‘regular’ grading, students have the chance to always be adding to their grade.
12. TEACH STUDENTS HOW TO HAVE A CONVERSATION
One way to bring joy back into your classroom is to teach students how to have a conversation by teaching them to truly listen to one another. You can give them topics and have them come out to the front of the class to teach and explain to everyone. This would boost their confidence, encourage them to work harder,more connected to one another, and of course, you could always correct.
13. TELL PERSONAL STORIES
Students (especially older ones) love to hear about their teachers’ life, but be careful. They are always curious to know how well you did when you were in school. If you were smart, rebellious, ever bullied? and so on, and then compare it theirs. They would want to know your about your life aside from being a teacher but remember that boundaries are important and oversharing is a real concern. The idea is not to share deeply personal and shadowy secrets but ones that do not deviate from the acceptable norms.
14. MAXIMIZE TIME
When students struggle to understand a topic, look at it as a way of refining your craft. Slowing down and reflecting can help to restore joy. You can improve the lesson by breaking it down, and reteach it in the next class.
15. GIVE STUDENTS CHOICE
Once in a while, allow your students to decide how they want things. Like deciding on the topic they want to study,if they would want any other activities included. This would give them a sense of being important.
In conclusion, quoting Amita Puri, Ph.D. “embark on the journey of making education a joyful experience. What happens inside schools has a deep and lasting effect on the student’s mindset that develops towards lifelong learning. A teacher affects eternity and one can never tell when his influence stops”.