Thursday, October 1, 2015

Don't Worry, Be Happy

This week, I am honored to have two amazing educators wrote a guest post for my blog! I have the opportunity to work with this awesome team each and every day - Allison and Marissa, otherwise known as the Levlons here at #Cantiague! They are our 5th grade co-teachers and they wrote a piece about the ways they go about creating a happy classroom in honor of our #YearOfHappy! I think this is a MUST read for all educators...

Perhaps Winnie the Pooh said it best when he stated, “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” 

Dr. Sinanis has declared the 2015-1016 school year, #yearofhappy. We have been thinking a lot about this phenomenon and realized some important things about what motivates our students, what motivates us, and about our classroom environment in general. It is really quite simple. Kids perform better when they are happy. If they look forward to coming to school, have positive learning experiences while they are here, feel connected to their teachers and peers, and leave each day with a smile, they WILL be more successful. They are more open to learning, they are motivated to succeed, and their confidence soars. After all, don’t you perform better when you are happy? 

So now that we know happiness promotes success, how do we make it happen? Let’s begin with our morning meeting. The Levlon morning meeting has been compared to the Kelly and Michael show (LOL). We bring humor to the meeting, engage our audience, and make sure student voice is heard and valued. Each day our students look forward to this casual and comfortable experience. A benefit to co-teaching is that we are able to model positive social interactions all day every day. The Levlons take this opportunity to model compassion, kindness, and humor. We are constantly laughing at ourselves, and WITH each other and our students. 

We also work hard to create a safe and happy environment for our kids. We often refer to math instruction in our classroom as “group therapy,” which lets our students know that we are “all in it together.” They feel comfortable making mistakes, and this motivates them to try harder, and enables them to be more successful than they believed they were capable of. 

Our students also really enjoy our daily read aloud. After lunch is a sacred time in our classroom where we read books to our kids strictly for enjoyment. There is no mini lesson attached or hidden agenda. We simply read to read! We choose relevant books that we know the kids will relate to, connect with, and enjoy hearing. During these read alouds, we laugh together, cry together, and definitely grow together. 

Another happy time in room 26 is Genius Hour. This is a time each week, where the kids can explore their passions and interests. It enables EVERY child to be successful and feel good about what they’re working on. We all look forward to this special weekly experience. 

Most importantly, throughout each day we talk to our students. Not just about what we are learning in Social Studies or Reading Workshop, but about what’s going on in their lives. We make connections with them and follow up with them about how things are going. We’ll ask how a new soccer team is working out, or if they received that special robot for their birthday. We also share information about our lives; our kids and our weekends. It’s not a surprise when our students follow up and ask us about what’s going on in our lives as well. We care about each other and respect each other as individuals. 

So, if you ask us what makes our kids so happy, we can list a whole bunch of activities and experiences that occur in our classroom on a daily basis. We believe it really boils down to the way we treat our kids. We make every decision with their best interest at heart (and they know it!). We listen to them and empower them. We hug them and love them. The best part is that in return, our kids love us back and add so much joy to our lives. We come to work HAPPY every day and we are motivated to be the BEST we can be for our kids!


  1. "So, if you ask us what makes our kids so happy, we can list a whole bunch of activities and experiences that occur in our classroom on a daily basis." You can't beat that! Thank you for all you do; your passion really comes through.

  2. Love this! I totally agree. :)

  3. I couldn't agree more! Happiness is the key! Sounds like you have created an environment where your students can blossom and excel! I felt happy just reading all about it! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Love this post Tony! Wonderful hearing from the kids! Love the #yearofhappy! Makes me happy!