Written by Gabrielle DeLoach
This year has been hard. The kind of hard that only feels recognized as you pass your fellow teachers in the hall and you share a nod of knowing. Right now it’s like being a dough that gets stretched from every direction. Continuing to be pulled until strands are so small they’re barely attached or the piece comes off entirely. Through all the stretching, changing, and flexibility moments of joy flit in. Some joy moments are so fast we barely see them other times it fills your chest like you’re breathing air for the first time.
To bring joy back it’s important to first identify what gives you joy. For me my heart soars when I see a child engaged with materials and creating the design of their dreams. The moment it is finished they look to adults or peers to share in their creation. The smiles are so big.
Joy could look like:
-big belly classroom laughs
-connecting one-on-one with a child
-meaningful conversations with parents
Our joy may look different, even throughout the year, and by acknowledging and celebrating that joy, we can cultivate it.
One way to cultivate joy in the classroom is by modeling the process to children. Start with designating a time, space, or area for joy cultivation to take place.
In this example, we created a shining joy window. Children, parents, and staff were given Discovery Boards to write, paint, or draw something that brings them overflowing happiness. As we created we shared stories and dreamed of new experiences that would make us feel joy. Children created representations of their favorite people, places, colors, and even some cotton candy chickens who lay cotton candy eggs. Joy can exist in the moments that have passed and the ones that we create together.
We hung the boards on the window using tape, suction cups, and pipe cleaners. When the sun peeks through the boards it will shift the colors and images in the room as it illuminates all the joy from the people in the space.
We reflected on our discovery boards, talking about how the different parts communicated the deep joy that we feel. It was a moment of pause to listen as the words, smiles, and laughter of the storytellers shared a meaningful experience. Reflection provides information about how the individual children in your class experience joy. As an educator there should be moments for you to fully express the aspects of your joy. An additional resource to this blog is a place to reflect and collect your stories as we move through this series to Find Joy.
The opportunity as a classroom to reflect on and create joyful moments together may be just the refresh your classroom needs. As a class, you can begin to extend and receive joy in turn that cultivates a community of laughter, connection, and happiness.
With this week’s blog, we’ve included a reflection journal and encourage you to take some time to reflect on the moments that bring you joy.
Finding Joy Journal