Starting Day 1: Happy Classrooms – Successful Kids

I’ve always been a teacher who wants students to be happy in the classroom.  I want them to like coming to school and to like learning for the pleasure of learning itself.  As a result, a lot of my energy went into creating engaging, personally enjoyable learning environments for students.  Don’t get me wrong, I feel the pressures of accountability, assessment and ‘covering the curriculum’ – all important – but in my mind, not more important than how a learner felt about their own learning.

As we start into a new school year, students and teachers alike enjoy that ‘fresh start’ kind of feeling.  A fresh chance to start again, try new things, refocus ourselves.

What if your focus this year was to have a class full of happy learners?  What would you do differently?  How would you explain that primary goal to parents, colleagues and your administrators?  Would a little information from a cognitive psychologist be helpful?

If you can find 12 minutes this first week of school to listen to Shawn Achor’s Tedx Talk: happy secret to better work  I think you’ll be glad that you did! Think about your happiness and fulfillment as an educator in addition to that of your students as you watch it.

One big takeaway for me was the following, related to how positivity affects learning:

“The lens through which your brain views the world shapes your reality.”

What was yours?



  1. I love the part about job success being predicted by optimism level, social support, and the ability to see stress as a challenge instead of a threat. So much of how happy we are in this world has to do with how we see it.


  2. Brenda, No wonder you encouraged me to watch this. 🙂 How often have we had some of these discussions – I guess, especially the ‘meditation’ recommendation (and the exercise). There are some other books out there you might like. I have Rewire Your Brain: Think Your Way to a Better Life In schools we see Random Acts of Kindness initiatives. And, yes, the ‘three gratitudes a day’.
    My challenge is self-discipline to do some of these things in a planful way – to incorporate them into my lifestyle – like a healthy diet and exercise. I KNOW these things – just need to DO them.
    I get over-stressed – as many of us do – and must change some habits. I think I will initiate for myself (and for the good of those who have to tolerate me! ) — twice-daily meditation and a daily ‘random act of kindness’.
    Brenda, thank you for your inspiration and your ever-so-positive attitude.


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