What makes you happy as a teacher?

I am really excited to start blogging here again. I felt as if life was just too busy for too long to do so, but as I find moments of balance here and there I like to share my thoughts and feelings as a teacher here.

Recently I have been going through a bit of a dark time personally. I am a Canadian all the way in Beijing and my father, who is in Canada, is quite ill. I won’t go into details, but he is a medically induced coma and on a ventilator while he recovers from a very sudden and unexpected illness. He is on a treatment cycle and my family in Canada have urged me to continue living in Beijing as normal at least for a few more weeks as his recover slowly moves forward and we know more about his health.

In times like this, being an early elementary school teacher is a blessing.

Every day, a happy crew of five and six-year-olds march into my class. They keep me so busy with their mini-dramas, triumphs, struggles and general happiness that I forget about the harder things in life.


With this in mind, I wanted to make a simple list of the things that as a teacher, makes me happy:

1. Happy smiles as my students walk in the door in the morning.

2. Hugs and unexpected cards and pictures from students who love having me as their teacher.

3. Watching my Grade One’s blossom as young readers right in front of me.

4. Watching my Grade Ones have a wonderful fall-inspired leaf fight on the playground today.

5. Seeing creativity blossom.

6. Having parents say, “Thank you.” (If only they knew how many hours a week we actually put on for their children…more should say thank you.)

7. Hearing the squeals and cheers of delight when my previous years’ students see me walk across the schoolyard.

8. Meeting a group of high school students who I taught in Kindergarten and Grade One and have them not only remember me but remember things I taught them about insects, spiders, birds, and giant squid! (Happened to me last year and brought me to tears)


There are countless other things, but these ones popped into my mind right away.

Teaching is a powerful thing. You change the lives of those you work with every day, but it can also help heal you when you are in pain as well.

Going to class is a little like Happy Therapy for me at the moment. That’s pretty important when a lot of unhappy things happen in our lives outside of school!



About the Writer:

Kevin O’Shea is a PYP/Nature/Outdoor educator currently based in Beijing, China. He is a father, husband, and avid conservationist. Kevin is an advocate for outdoor play and nature education.  He is the host of the long-running Just Japan Podcast and is currently developing the Making Better Teachers Podcast!

Twitter: @MadForMaple

Email: makingbetterteachers@gmail.com

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