Joy and Laughter: Why I Became a Teacher

I’ve been working on this post for a while now… actually, since coming home after spending the day with George Couros and fellow educators in my district… Yes, that was about a month ago! We worked through the day sharing and being inspired to foster innovation in our district. George ended the day with a request for bloggers in the district to write about why we became teachers.

Well, this was a harder task than I expected it to be, so I chewed on it for a while. Then I attended Tedx West Vancouver and received the final push I needed! The inspiration resulted from Dean Shareski’s talk, Whatever Happened to the Joy in Education?.

I became a teacher because of the joy I experienced when I was in school. I was joyed when my school supplies were purchased, when we opened new textbooks, when we watched celebrations in the gym, when my teachers would ask ME to share my ideas, and when I passed by the staffroom and the smell of coffee and the sounds of laughter spilled out into the halls. I also felt joy at one time events like finding a perfectly intact butterfly to add to my insect project in grade five; making my teacher laugh hysterically at the story of me running down the hill through a forest on the way to school and losing control of my feet, then losing my shoes and lunch bag and laughing so hard while watching my sister do the same; spending a whole lazy June day with my grade six class walking around in the bush for no reason, but just because, and stumbling upon a cow’s skull; and finally being able to show everyone that I could moon walk in the main hall of the school, which was open often for kids to play games in, dance, and/or just talk at lunch and recess. I could go on and on, school was a joyful place!

Now, I didn’t go through school completely with rose coloured glasses! Try being one of the few minorities in a cautious small town of 1,500. Try being placed in the lowest reading group and knowing it. Try navigating this world as the eldest daughter to immigrant parents who want the best for their child, but are in conflict with what the best in Canada means. Despite it all, I just had great people at school who supported me. I had teachers and administrators who helped me see the joy in everything.

I laugh when others typically laugh, but I also laugh at the joy I get from all the absurdity that happens in this world. I laugh when things aren’t going as planned and I laugh when things go as planned. Yes, I actually was laughing at my friend’s father’s funeral, but my mother was so embarrassed that she violently folded my body in half and rubbed my back to make people think that I was crying. But, to defend myself… We were singing a very sad hymn, and there was a lady next to me singing her heart out to a completely different hymn. I just lost it, it was absurd that at such a serious, sorrowful event, this was occurring beside me.

As Dean Shareski often shares, there is a lot in this world to laugh about. Sometimes we need to laugh so that we are not overcome by all that isn’t good in this world. It is no surprise to me that when things get really stressful at school, I end up laughing a lot. It doesn’t mean that I do not treat things seriously, far from it, but laughing and finding the joy is a way of coping and seeing the light.

I became a teacher, for purely selfish reasons… because school makes ME joyful! It always has and it always will. I also want to share that with everyone. School often takes itself too seriously. We get bogged down through debating what’s best four our students, recording every single thing  to use as “data”, believing that if we take a break kids will fail and not become good citizens of our world. What school needs to do is change out of its three piece suit and put on some pajamas! Schools need to be a source of joy for everyone!