How to Nurture Empathic Joy in Your Classroom | Greater Good



I’ve been thinking a lot about joy (since before the elections, by the way)—about how hungry I am for pure, unabashed joy in my life, how aware I am that although gratitude comes very easily to me, I’ve been missing joy. Not just moments, but sustained joy. I’m certainly happy with my life. But happy seems different from joyful. Sometimes, I worry that maybe I just don’t remember what joy feels like and let it pass me by without realizing. Being someone so attuned to gratitude, have I associated joy with some kind of extraordinary feeling in my body, and don’t notice that some moments of gratitude and peace are in fact moments of joy? Does joy have to be BIG, BOLD, LOUD, EXTRAORDINARY? Maybe not, but that’s what I’ve been missing: the exuberance of it compared to being happy. I’ve had some health issues that affected my lightness of being, and the current administration’s daily announcements about decisions that go against all the fibers of my being don’t help. So I am thinking about joy, about how to cultivate joy in my life, how not to become a black hole, how to spread the kind of joy I want to feel around me.

Given all that, the reading below is very timely for me. It’s a good reminder that “students perform better when teachers share in their joy” (this, according to a new study, which doesn’t feel new to me — are we surprised?). Maybe it helps some of you, too.

How to Nurture Empathic Joy in Your Classroom | Greater Good


Don’t Say Nothing | Teaching Tolerance – Diversity, Equity and Justice

“We may be uncomfortable talking about race, but we can no longer afford to be silent. We have chosen a profession, which—like parenting—requires that our comforts come second to those of children.”

Don’t Say Nothing | Teaching Tolerance – Diversity, Equity and Justice


A call to action to my colleagues + the Black Lives Matter Fall 2016 Syllabus

Dear educators:

#BlackLivesMatter is the Civil Rights Movement of our time. What role are we playing [and I mean beyond posting or re-posting (re)traumatizing stories day after day on social media]? Is this not a time to stop business as usual and maybe replace our pre-planned curricula -at least in part- with a Black Lives Matter Syllabus? Whose permission or encouragement are we waiting for? Are we really “too busy” to rethink what we’re doing in our classrooms, really that stressed about material we “should” cover to prepare students for the next standardized test or college? What better way to prepare students than teach them how to respond to the world around us by modeling responsible citizenship?

Our students are listening, and our silence is deafening.

Why don’t we all fly Black Lives Matter flags at our schools? (UPDATE with better questions: What would it take for our schools to be able to fly the Black Lives Matter flag knowing we were doing the flag justice, that it was not just an empty symbol without any institutional support? What would have to happen at our schools first before we could put up that flag in good conscience?)

Please think about your universe of obligation, your spheres of influence, your locus of control and decide on some next steps you’re going to take starting on Monday.

Me? As a department chair, I am going to have a meeting about how we as the Human Development Department will be responding to recent events. And I am going to be having some awkward conversations, I am sure, following this post. I’m open and willing to be checked when I step on toes or cross some lines. Hell, I’m open and willing to put my job on the line for being “too aggressive,” perhaps, in challenging my community to self-reflect, re-evaluate, come face-to-face with white fragility -sore spots and blind spots and all-, and keep doing the work anyway.

There’s no opting out when fellow human beings literally can’t breathe.

I am not even calling anyone out right now; as I learned at Facing Race conference six years ago, and as I keep trying to teach my students, I am calling us all IN.

We can and must do better. Let’s figure out what that looks like, and then, for the love of humanity, let’s start doing it.

Thanks for reading.

Here’s one selection from the Black Lives Matter Fall 2016 Syllabus. Enjoy.