Planning and Designing for Joy in the Classroom

Educators who teach to academic standards might be surprised by a proposed, new standard suggested by educational technologist Dean Shareski during this week’s Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo & Conference (PETE&C): Start counting the smiles you bring to your students and to your fellow teachers.

Dean’s second-day keynote captivated and entertained attendees with a mix of videos and personal stories as an educator and consultant in Canada for more than 20 years.

Here are some highlights from “Is Joy Still a Thing?

• Remove the boring and focus on wonder. “Think of wonder outside of routine,” Dean said. “Step out of your comfort zone.” Using everything from a comedian Louis CK video to quotes from author Robert Fulghum, Dean challenged attendees to take on the responsibility to awe.

• Be interesting and unique. Dean urged educators to start looking at their classrooms differently. “What makes your school unique? Your classroom unique?” he asked. “Stop saying, ‘they are coming back even if I suck at my job.'” Dean went on to suggest that if you view your schools as institutions of learning, then you should lead by example and show how, as educators, you are lifelong learners.

In fact, Dean learned how to play guitar thanks to YouTube and the help of a group of students in Connecticut. “Be a learner,” he said. “What are you learning right now? How are you interests and passions infused into your classroom?”

• Share using a teacher or classroom blog or on Twitter and other social networks. “Make joy contagious,” he said. “Help your kids have fun in class by having fun yourself.”

• Be grateful to your students, colleagues and parents. Give away gratitude via social media, commenting on other teachers’ blogs or just with a simple hand-written note.

“Adults should have fun so children will want to grow up,” Dean concluded. “When was the last time you did something solely to bring joy to your students?”