As I watched this student share about his school experience, I couldn't help but wonder why we can't give every student the opportunity to be happy in the traditional school environment. I asked myself why we aren't teaching students to be happy and healthy and what I as a teacher can do to ensure that my students are receiving the opportunity to be creative.
If you have read any of my blog posts, you know that we recently started Genius Hour in my classroom. I honestly feel like this has given my students the opportunity to find what makes them happy and use creativity to explore their passions. I am so thankful for my PLN because without them, I still would not know about Genius Hour and the impact that it has on learning.
Since allowing my students to be creative, I have noticed major changes in their ability to share, reflect, and create. Just today, one of my students shared her one word for 2014 on her blog. In reading her words, I realized that they have a desire to make a difference. They long to change their world in ways that we can't even imagine.
I have spent the last few weeks taking in all that I can about finding ways to encourage this type of learning in my classroom. I have been forever changed as a teacher as I have read the amazing things that people are using in their classrooms to give their students the best learning experience possible in spite of testing expectations and other challenges that are present in the traditional classroom.
If you haven't seen these before, you can check them out here. I printed out posters and posted them in our classroom so that we would see them every day. We will be focusing on one habit each week and learning how to put that habit into practice. If you would like a copy of the 7 Habits posters for your wall, I found a freebie on Teachers Pay Teachers. Check it out HERE.
I also read Classroom Habitudes by Angela Maiers and was inspired to implement these into our classroom as well. Reading this book had a huge impact on my desire to change the way that I was teaching. The book addresses habits/attitudes that give students the skills they need to be 21st century learners. Understanding the importance of these skills has also given me the the tools that I need to ensure that students are happy and exploring their passions in creative ways.
I think I will always refer to this part of my teaching career as my awakening. While I always knew that I needed to be doing more and giving more to my students, it wasn't until now that I realized how I wanted to do that. I am still learning every day and definitely have days when it's hard and I want to throw in the towel. However, reading blog posts like the one above reminds me that what I am doing is what my students need. Watching them work on their Genius Hour projects with passion and drive gives me the boost I need to carry on and stay the course. I can't wait to see what is still to come!
When was your awakening as an educator? Have you had that moment yet when you realize what it is that you REALLY want for your students and how you are going to go about sharing it with them? If you haven't, I would encourage you to take some time to do just that. Happy students make for a happy teacher which in turn creates a happy classroom. What will you do to create your happy classroom?