Finding Joy – A Letter to Teachers

This is a re-post of a letter I wrote to teachers on Joy.
Joy is the magic word!

Dear Teachers,

As you start your new school year there is one word that will get you through the uncertainty and the worry.  It’s the same word that is the heart of educating.  That word is ‘joy’.  No, it’s not the happiness that children bring. It’s the happiness that you bring because it inspires and ignites the mind and the heart of children.  Yes, that’s how it works.

Children come to you with big eyes, looking at you to teach them.  They don’t know what to think.  They want to learn, yet what they really want is to be inspired to learn.  That is where you can make a difference.

What do you like?  Because whatever it is, from math to music, that ‘like’ will become your best buddy, your guiding star, and the foundation to teach all the things that you like.  It will also become a portal to help you teach the things you may not enjoy.  If you know that every day you have some window of time to teach what you love, then you become an educator.  You go beyond teaching curriculum; you teach the child.

Do you like reading?  Does Because of Winn-Dixie or Charlotte’s Web make your heart jump?  Well, carry that book around and read it aloud on the playground, in the lunchroom, or at the bus stop.  If this is your passion, children will know, and they will listen.  They will learn.

Do you like science?  Carry a tuning fork, magnet, magnifying glass or flashlight in your pocket.  Pick up interesting pieces of nature and explore them with children.  This is one of the fundamental constants for learning.  If you are grounded in nature and science, bring your curiosity and discovery to the classroom and the playground; then the world will open up for children.

Do you love music?  Sing your favorite songs, sing the words to a book, sing poetry, or just sing the words that you say.  If this is your passion children will know.  They’ll listen and learn.  Introduce children to the music you love.  I bring my record player and old albums into the classroom.  Some years they love Beethoven, other years the Beatles.  The point is, they will love the music because you do.

Do you love art?  Don’t be afraid to use real artist’s watercolors when introducing art.  Children enjoy learning about famous pieces of art, too.  If you treat a child like an artist and treat the work s/he creates like a masterpiece, the results are remarkable.  When a child has created something and is incredibly proud, ask the child to give the art a title and record that to the work of art.  This simple affirmation has done more for the confidence and character of children than most anything I have done.

You may only like one thing, but that alone will open the door to help you teach the rest.

We all know that the emotional and social pieces for children need to be ‘there’ before effective learning takes place.  Well, flip-flop that fact from the child to the teacher.  If you the teacher are not grounded in an emotional and social component of educating, then how in the world can you get your message across to children?  You have to share your love and passions.  That’s your joy.  In that way, you are sharing you.  And, all that children want to know is that you love them and love what you are teaching.  If they know that, the floodgates will open to learning.

Maya Angelou was right when she said, “…people will never forget how you made them feel”.  The children I have taught for decades often return to school to visit.  They can’t put a finger on what it was in my classroom, but they come back.  Joy is the magic word.

Jennie

About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
This entry was posted in behavior, Early Education, Expressing words and feelings, Giving, Inspiration, joy, teaching, Teaching young children, young children and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

73 Responses to Finding Joy – A Letter to Teachers

  1. swamiyesudas says:

    Good post, and good thoughts, my Dear Jennie! …Most of the time, I Teach Values! My Tool in this becomes …The Opportunity! I use Every Single bit of them! 🙂

  2. quiall says:

    Wise words Jennie! You just described my BEST teachers. Almost 5 decades later I still remember . . .

  3. You make me want to go back to Kindergarten – not sure if I want to be the child or the teacher.Have a great first week, Jennie.

  4. petespringerauthor says:

    Thanks for seeing the big picture, Jennie. I wish my son could have had you as a teacher. You’ve nailed one of the most basic concepts of teaching. When we care and are engaged, the kids will too. I used to run around and play games with my students at P.E. (even in my fifties). Those were times of pure joy.

    • Jennie says:

      You are welcome, Pete. Thank you for reading and commenting. I know you absolutely get it, too. It’s so basic, but it took me a while to fully understand and get there. Like you, I get immersed in child’s play. What’s with the teachers who just stand watch on the playground? I wish I’d been your son’s teacher, too. 🙂

  5. Beautiful Letter, Jennie.

  6. Ritu says:

    Wonderful letter Jennie!

  7. great post. I always feel like the students remember the things you love the best about each year. what makes you feel excited it what they will be excited about too

  8. Your post is very inspiring for beginner teacher like I am… Thank you very much!

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Analou! It took me some years to realize that joy is what what inspires children to want to learn. I’m so glad this inspired you. My passion that I bring to children is reading aloud. I know you will have something, too.

  9. Jennie, what an inspirational letter to teacher.. You dear Jennie bring Joy in all you do both here on your blog and especially within your classroom..
    I bet some of your students can’t wait to be back in your class again..
    Much love my friend ❤

  10. This is such wonderful advice, Jennie.

  11. beetleypete says:

    Nobody knows better than you how ‘IT’ works, Jennie. They should give a copy to everyone at Teacher Training School.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • Jennie says:

      If new teachers had a course on joy and teaching, that could change the lives of children. Thank you, Pete. Your kind and enthusiastic words are greatly appreciated.

  12. I’ve always contended that learning should be a joyful act–no matter what your age! And you’re right; the teachers I learned the most from took such delight in what they were teaching.

    • Jennie says:

      Well said, Liz. Like you, the teachers I remember and learned from were enthusiastic and eager to teach us. Learning needs to be fun. If the teacher isn’t joyous, then learning goes out the window. That’s so sad.

  13. Wonderful message for us all, Jennie! Sharing…

  14. srbottch says:

    Wonderful! Wonderful! Wonderful! Jennie, you nailed it. What a simple yet profound introduction to teaching, and life, in general. Bring the passion, your passion, to work and you’ll excite the folks around you. Wonderful, Jennie!👍

  15. Thank you!
    I agree… our energy, joy inspires the children not the maths, science or whatever it is itself!
    I always put a big or a little something that I like into everything… and my enthusiasm makes the children to want to stick to me and get inspired by me!

  16. Beautiful post, Jennie! If we aren’t teaching the child/children, of what use are we? There is no joy in simply pounding away at the curriculum. It’s how the kids get turned off and look elsewhere for that which they yearn.

  17. This is a marvelous article, Jennie. Well worth another share. All of your posts “spark joy.” Thank you for being you. Hugs on the wing!

  18. Wonderful post Jennie, inspiring and motivating… I have shared in the Blogger Daily this evening..hugsx

  19. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – September 4th, 2019 – Jennie Fitzkee, Sue Vincent, Robbie Cheadle, James J. Cudney | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

  20. I remember this letter, Jennie. So inspiring and true not only about teaching. I’m glad that your kids come back to the feelings of joy.

  21. Dan Antion says:

    I hope every teacher approaches class like this.

  22. An awesome role modeling, Jennie!! 💕👍💞))))❤((((

  23. CarolCooks2 says:

    Your joy shines through in all you do, Jennie…I would back to school if you were my teacher 🙂

  24. Inspirational. Will be sharing this with all my teacher friends and family.

  25. Wonderful. A great motivation too. Honestly, who else is writing letters of fun to teachers. Lol Have a nice weekend! Michael

  26. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    Here is yet another excellent post on the importance of joy for teachers from Jennie, the wonderful teacher!

  27. Endless Weekend says:

    Your letter is magical. It talks of the supreme art of teaching, as in Einstein’s “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”

    Thank you!

  28. The Hook says:

    Well done, Jennie.
    This is beautiful.

  29. dgkaye says:

    Outstanding, and so not surprised you wrote this Jennie. I sure hope the teachers share it far and wide. ❤

  30. Kally says:

    Jennie, this is so beautiful! You are such an inspiration. I wished I had a teacher like you when I was a child.

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