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The secret to happiness

August 24, 2017

On a recent episode of the Tom Ferry Show, a viewer asked Tom "what makes you happy?" His response was "connecting, contributing, being with my family, and learning". As my husband (who was the one that had watched the show) was recounting to me Tom's answer, we agreed that those four things could really be consolidated into three, since being with family encompasses the verbs. And we agreed with Tom's answer. In any area of our life (personal or professional), we feel happy when we are connecting, contributing, and/or learning. I think that it is safe to say that you probably feel happy when you are doing those three things, and likely that your students do as well.

As a teacher, look for opportunities this year to...

  • connect with your colleagues. This might mean reaching out to teachers in your building or district, joining your state language teacher organization, attending the state and/or regional conference, or joining a regional or virtual PLN. (Hey, what great timing! #Langchat returns tonight at 8pm EST on Twitter!)
  • contribute to the profession and to your professional community. This might mean sharing an idea or something that you have created with another teacher in person or online (through a blog post, in a Facebook group, on Twitter--even leaving comments on posts that someone else makes!), offering help to another teacher, getting involved as a volunteer or leader in your state or regional language teacher organization, signing up as a mentor teacher, allowing other teachers to observe you, teaching language exchange lessons with another teacher, coaching or being coached, or looking for opportunities to start conversations about language learning and teaching.
  • learn what the research says about language acquisition and teaching, learn about children and adolescents, learn about reading, learn about the brain, learn about our social and emotional selves, learn about community. Learn by reading books, articles, and blogs; by attending trainings; by observing others; by listening to your colleagues with an open mind.

As I'm planning lessons, "learning" is an obvious consideration. Learning to listen, learning to read, learning about the culture, learning how to be global citizens...those are all daily objectives. "Connecting" and "contributing", though--those are more easily lost.

  • Connect students with each other through personalization techniques like PQA and La Persona Especial
  • Connect students with the target culture by learning about people, products, and practices that your kiddos are interested in
  • Connect students with you by letting them know that you are on their side
  • Connect students to the classroom community through shared, creative experiences such as storyasking or the Invisibles
  • Connect students with their passions through FVR and by exposing a wide range of content (always in the target language!)
  • Provide opportunities for students to contribute to the class with classroom jobs and by valuing their additions to shared creative experiences
  • Make discussion a cornerstone of your class so that students can contribute their ideas and let their voices be heard
  • Contribute to your school, your community, and the world through service opportunities

What would you add? How can you connect, contribute, and learn this year; and how can you help your students to do the same? And do those things make you feel happy? What would you add or remove from the list?

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