Education Opinion

Countdown to Happiness

By Hanne Denney — January 14, 2007 2 min read
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They aren’t really resolutions, but here’s a countdown of ten ideas that may help you become a better teacher, or at least a happier one. Some have already worked for me, and others are goals for this year. I’m not telling which is which.

10. Grade some things verbally. If a child can tell you a good theme statement, does she really need to write it down for you to carry home to pull out of a folder to read and write a “good job” on it and to put back in the folder back in the bag back in the car to hope you can find it tomorrow when class meets again?

9. Join a school-wide committee. The more you know about the big picture of your school, the better prepared you’ll be for new challenges.

8. Get to know teachers from other departments. As an English teacher I don’t hear much about the Math department. But I make a point to talk with math teachers in the halls or at social events. So if I have a math question, or need to find out about a student, or just want a kind word after school, I have friends all over.

7. Talk to other teachers, positively and enthusiastically. Tell them what great things are happening in your classroom. They will feel competitive and will want to share great things with you – so you’ll have a never-ending source of great ideas to use!

6. Practice your discipline. If you teach English, read good literature for pleasure. If you teach science, conduct your own experiment. Remind yourself of what you love about your subject.

5. Refresh your mind. Try something new. Take up a new kind of puzzle, learn a video game, begin writing, try a musical instrument, a foreign language, or a different sport. We ask our students to learn something new, so we should be willing to do so ourselves. It will make you feel smart.

4. Model what you’re teaching. Do what you’re asking the students to do. If they are writing a reflection on something just read, write one yourself. Keep your own portfolio and writer’s notebook.

3. Develop a support network. We all need someone to whine to when things aren’t going right. A trusted co-worker (who won’t pass on the information that you had a minor breakdown this morning) or a family member who doesn’t mind listening will help you keep your sanity.

2. Know when to be quiet. Sometimes we talk about our jobs too much, boring others (like spouses) near to death. Sometimes we comment on students, or other teachers, or the principal, without thinking. Develop an awareness of when it is best to count to ten instead of speaking.

1. Know when to make noise. Celebrate Success and Challenge. When a problem is overcome, or a milestone is reached, we must celebrate - sometimes privately, sometimes with public recognition. Celebrate the victories of others, and don’t be shy about celebrating those of yourself. Celebration brings joy.

I’m going to print this out myself, on fancy paper, and hang it in my classroom. Good ideas to see me through the winter. Hope you can use them!

The opinions expressed in Ready or Not are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.