New Teacher Advocate Winter 2010 : Page 3

the main outcome by looking for daily successes that may not be measurable on a standardized test, we can experi-ence more joy. What goals do students have for their own learning? How can we help them achieve those goals? What progress has a student made in affective aspects of growth? Joy comes from watching students develop over time. Joy Boosters Joy in teaching emerges from the unexpected ques-tion, the unanticipated answer, the interesting insight, and a host of other surprises. It comes when we embrace the wonder of learning! Working conditions that overshadow learning’s promi-nence make finding joy a challenge. Gretchen Rubin (2009) described her journey to joy in The Happiness Project . For one year, she searched for greater joy in life with a different concentration each month. Rubin found that joy comes from anticipation (looking forward to something we enjoy), awareness (being attentive to the moment as it unfolds), and engaging in an “ atmosphere of growth ” (seeking opportunities to grow). Restoring joy in teaching requires us to look for un-expected treasure each day, be observant of learning as it happens and celebrate those moments, and continually place ourselves in growth-promoting situations. We can learn a new skill, read a different kind of book, watch an educational program, and locate many other means to stretch ourselves. While we combat joy robbers and seize joy boost-ers, we should remember why we became teachers. Our reasons for becoming teachers probably did not include the desire to experience frustration but rather to make a difference in students’ lives and to contribute to society. Keeping a treasure box, drawer, or file of teach-ing mementos (e.g., notes, photographs) that we dig into occasionally reminds us of our impact and why we teach—and those are valuable gems that spark greater joy. A renewed perspective will get us through the lengthy meetings we still must attend, the unpleasant phone calls we must make, and the imposing tests for which we must prepare students. Building rapport with students and helping them make connections to the subject, to us, and to one another never fails to restore the joy inherent in teaching. Reference Rubin, G. 2009. The happiness project : Or, why I spent a year trying to sing in the morning, clean my closets, fight right, read Aristotle, and generally have more fun . New York: Harper Collins. New Teacher Advocate • Winter 2010 • 3

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