“Give me joy in my heart keep me serving. Give me joy in my heart I pray. Give me joy in my heart keep me serving. Keep me serving till the end of day.”
Yet again, God’s voice spoke directly into my life as I found myself on the receiving end of a powerful sermon on what it means live a life of joy. The Bible never promises a life of happiness but it does promise us joy. Before Jesus went to Calvary He said “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11)
Joy is something entirely different from happiness…happiness is an emotion and temporary; whilst joy is an attitude of the heart. Happiness is fleeting and dependent on circumstance, joy is not. Joy comes from a solid factor: your faith in the Lord. True joy burns within you and is not dependent on external circumstances. In amidst the most thunderous storms, a joyful heart remains, rooted in gratitude, faith and complete trust in its maker. Just as we choose a life in Christ, so should we choose to live a life of joy. Each morning we wake up we are faced with a choice…to allow our fears and anxieties to overwhelm and consume us or to, despite our fears and worries, be grateful for what we do have, focus on the good and surrender it all into the hands of God. As teachers, parents and caregivers, it is often so hard for us mask our own saddened hearts riddled with worry and fear, and be that positive and cheerful role model our children expect us to be. This is where a JOYFUL heart makes all the difference. As you choose joy, those mountains you thought were too high to climb suddenly start to seem like possibilities and acts of kindness become genuine outpourings from the heart as opposed to obligatory duties.
Along with the joyful heart of a teacher comes the overflow of joy into the lives of the children we are granted the privilege of influencing. Ask any person to recall that one teacher who left a positive imprint on their life and they will most probably speak of the one who because of her own joyful nature filled the classroom with joy and made learning a pleasure. That teacher whose classroom was always the brightest, whose lessons were always delivered with the most passion and whose smile was always the widest. That teacher whose level of influence reached further than she was even aware of it reaching. The impact of a joyful teacher should never be underestimated.
MAKE A JOYFUL NOISE IN YOUR CLASSROOM:
In the book Educational Leadership- The positive classroom , Steven Wolk offers a few suggestions on how to transform our classrooms into places of joy.
- FIND THE PLEASURE IN LEARNING : If we want our learners to find pleasure in learning then we need to rethink how and what we teach. Rethink how we are making connections and sparking interest. “No longer can schooling be primarily about creating workers and test takers, but rather about nurturing human beings (Wolk, 2007). By helping students find the pleasure in learning, we can make that learning infinitely more successful.”
- GIVE LEARNERS A CHOICE: If we are to rethink our teaching then it would make sense to ask our learners what it is that interests them.What reading book would they like to read? What topic would they like to choose? Encourage and embrace their individual voice.
- ALLOW LEARNERS TO CREATE: Encourage creativity. There is such power in being able to transform something from an idea to an actual product created with one’s own hands. The list of what students can create across the curriculum is virtually limitless: newspapers and magazines, brochures, stories, picture books, posters, murals, Web sites, podcasts, PowerPoint presentations, interviews, oral histories, models, diagrams, blueprints and floor plans, plays and role-plays, mock trials, photographs, paintings, songs, surveys, graphs, documentary videos—the list goes on and on.
- SHOW OFF LEARNER WORK: The walls of a classroom should be able to tell an honest story of what has taken place throughout the day. Encourage your learners to pursue greatness and believe that they are worthy of being praised. It is not simply your classroom but also their classroom and so create an opportunity for their talents to shine.
- CREATE AN INVITING SPACE: Whilst the overuse of colour can be too distracting, adding colour and inspiration to the walls of your classroom does wonders for improving the desire to be in the classroom in the first place. The possibilities are endless…create a comfortable reading corner with cushions and bean bags, a wall of inspirational quotes, a wall of achievements, class post box etc. Your classroom is meant to be a space of learning but also of inspiration and self discovery.
- GET OUTSIDE: Don’t be afraid to take your lessons outside every now and then. It is important for learners to embrace learning wherever they are and to not confine their love for learning within the four walls of the classroom only.
- HAVE FUN TOGETHER!!!! Learn from one another. Share with each other and laugh together. If you truly love what you do then this should not be a difficult task!