Bring in the Joy!

Bring in the Joy!

Let’s focus on the basics.

Abraham Maslow developed his Hierarchy of Needs model for understanding human motivation and personal development. Used extensively in businesses and provides a great model for teachers to keep in mind when working with students. Indeed, each of us is motivated by these needs. Our most basic needs are inborn, and Maslow attempted to explain how these needs motivate us all. Maslow’s original Hierarchy of Needs (Maslow 1954) included five levels, from lower-order needs of physical and emotional well-being to higher-order needs of influence and personal development. They are:

  1. Physiological needs (biological needs for basic survival)
  2. Safety needs (needs for security and stability)
  3. Love and belonging needs (affection and attention from different groups)
  4. Esteem needs (status, value, and confidence)
  5. Self-actualization needs (a person’s need to be and do what the person
    was born to do)

Maslow’s model teaches that we must satisfy each need in turn, beginning with basic survival needs. Only when the lower-order needs of physical and emotional well-being are satisfied can we focus on the higher-order needs of influence and personal development.


Let There Be Light!

It is a dark time out there. Public schools—teachers, in particular—have been taking a beating. While policymakers push their way in front of microphones to announce what is best for the nation’s youth, educators find their opinions almost completely ignored. Government mandates have prompted many great teachers to leave the classroom. This must end.

Let there be light! It’s time for teachers to “lighten up” and remember—you became teachers to make a lasting, positive impact on students. Constantly consider

“AYP.” (Besides Adequate Yearly Progress, AYP means asking yourself, “Are You Playing?”) People can argue about the quality of schools, funding shortfalls, or any number of other educational issues until they are blue in the face, but one variable stands out as a tried-and-true indicator of student success: quality teachers. Haven’t you enjoyed inspirational books and movies about teachers who inspired students to write through poetry, who challenged impoverished students to excel at calculus, and who taught all of their standards through music? Yet how many books or films about teachers tell the story of one who dramatically changed students’ lives by following a school district’s scripted reading program? Great teachers inspire by being a little unorthodox in their approaches. It is my hope to inspire “unorthodoxy” for teachers everywhere.

Ask yourself the following questions. And remember, a classroom can and should be first and foremost a place of joy!

Reflection Questions

  1. Who was your favorite teacher? What do you remember the most about him or her?
  2. What is it that brings you the most joy in the classroom?
  3. How could you make a conscious decision to choose joy?

(The above post is excerpted and adapted from Bringing Joy Back into the Classroom by Danny Brassell.)

 Your Turn!
How do you keep joy alive in your classroom? Share your ideas and experiences here.  We’d love to know!


Author bio

Danny Brassell, Ph.D.

Danny Brassell, Ph.D., Author

Danny Brassell, Ph.D., California State University, Dominguez Hills, has written over 40 articles for academic journals, magazines, newspapers, and book chapters, as well as textbooks. He also recently co-authored with Timothy Rasinski, Comprehension That Works: Taking Students Beyond Ordinary Understanding to Deep Comprehension.