Creating a Culture of Joy
This transcript has been edited for clarity and grammar but directly represents what is said in the podcast.
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John Davis: (Announcer and Producer) This is the Ten Minute Teacher Podcast with your host, Vicki Davis.
Thank You Advancement Courses – This Show’s Sponsor
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Vicki Davis: Today’s sponsor is Advancement Courses. Stay tuned at the show’s end to learn about ten top things to do and top topics to learn for teachers this summer. We need to learn, but can’t we have fun at the same time?
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Now on to the show.
Introducing Dean Shareski
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We’re talking to my longtime friend, Dean Shareski, a senior partnership consultant at Advanced Learning Partnerships, and he has a book, Embracing a Culture of Joy. Now, I want to give you a warning.
Sound Board In Use 😉
Dean has this joyful something or another gadget in his office that I don’t know what it is, but he’s going to use it and see if it pulls in on the conversation.
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Maybe. Maybe not. We’ll see.
A Message to Vicki’s Son John from his Mom
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It depends on what you do to me. My son John, who edits all this, is going to go, “Mom. Seriously?”
Yeah. John, you get to edit this one, son. I’m paying you, and I’m your mom. There we go.
Now, please tell us what handy dandy machine you’ll be using.
Bringing Joy to Zoom Presentations with Cool Tools
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Oh, okay. It’s. I’ll show you the machine. It’s called a Stream Deck.
When the pandemic hit, and we were doing everything via Zoom, I was just kind of tired of the traditional ways in which we engage in or share PowerPoint.
So I kind of up my game. I’m using something called OBS Studio, which is a free piece of software that allows you to do kind of some exciting things, but then also added this little deck to it so I can pipe my audio, not just through my mike but through my computer and play these sounds.
And, you know, it’s again, as I said, it’s not even just so much when I’m presenting, but I find in meetings like all of us were in 18 billion meetings a week. And, you know, just to sometimes spice it up, I’ll just, you know, I don’t, you know, try to use it judiciously.
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Or, you can lose your job that way.
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Yeah. No, like when somebody says something poignant, I might just play the.
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John Davis (Producer and Editor)
King of the world line from Titanic, which we can’t include for copyright reasons.
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Just things like that, anyway. It’s just. It’s silliness, but fun and important, maybe.
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Well, yeah, because you talk about embracing a culture of joy because, you know, you and I are both in all the social spaces. We know what folks are saying right now. And I know that I have lived and breathed burnout for quite some time.
But how do we do that?
We Still Need Joy
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Dean Shareski: Well, you know, interesting, when I the book is, I don’t know, five years old or whatever and, you know, it goes back so much farther than that in terms of how I kind of even came to this concept and my book kind of documents a bit of that history.
But, you know, when I first shared it, it was a reaction to what is continuing. But I felt like it was as it was more of teachers feeling heavy with, you know, whether it was standardized testing and just the difficulties of the profession itself and just sort of helping to reengage educators with like why they gotten up into the profession in the first place and why I still think that can be part of it.
Ambient Irritability: Is It a Problem?
I think there’s, you know, it’s this idea that that there’s sort of this ambient irritability that exists in the world today.
Like you go to the supermarket and, you know, you just are afraid somebody’s going to step in the wrong spot. And people like strangers are just getting mad at you for no reason. And we are getting angry at things for no reason.
I heard a fascinating commentary on that. On the recent debacle at the Oscars. It was it’s the kind of thing that people just want to be able to pick a side and be angry at something that they understand.
Right. And so when there’s something small that we can be irritable about and it gets sort of, it’s a way to release, and at some point maybe that’s good. But at the same time, we have to be super careful that that doesn’t overtake our lives.
And I think anybody who’s an introspective, reflective person has probably come to that point where they realize, okay, just, you know what, you’re being a grouch here.
Remember There Are Reasons to Have Joy
You forget so much of the great things we all have and experience, letting everything else take over.
So it’s a bit of a way to kind of like just reminding ourselves, like, “Hey, there’s, there’s so much there’s so much goodness and wonderfulness out there and joy” being, you know, not this fleeting idea of happiness, but something that’s really that that lives with us, that that’s this, you know, disposition that we carry with us, that we see it in so many things.
Perspective on Problems
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As we record this, I’m on day 39 of not being able to walk after getting my broken foot fixed. And the other day, I told my husband I am so looking forward to doing laundry, washing dishes, cooking, and going to the grocery store to go into my classroom.
So many things that I thought were problems three months ago. Right now, it’s like, let me go and live life. You know the opportunity to get around people is a joy. And yeah, we’ve got a lot of difficulties, but we’ve gotten a lot back in the last year, along with the difficulties. So for me, my attitude adjustment has been this cast.
We Need to Find Joy in Small Things
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I mean, yeah, I mean, health is, you know, anytime you get a health setback, I think most people are like, oh, I forgot how wonderful it is just to be able to walk and not to have pain or to breathe.
And that’s the part like you look at people who have like, you know, ongoing chronic pain or whatever and the fact that so many of them overcome those things and still see joy, it’s like, okay, if that person can figure it out, surely to goodness I can figure out a way to to see. I think to the point that out that I build on is like when you talk about doing laundry, you know, sometimes it is those little things and in education, you know, there’s so many little experiences that happen every day, you know, just the interactions you have with children and with other adults.
I often ask people to think of the insignificant things that other people might miss. But you notice like you notice that your colleague always comes in and makes sure the counters are clean in the staff room. Right? And that you see that, and you take delight in that.
Or that a kid -this was one of my favorite stories from the pandemic. As soon as this, you know, the pandemic hit in March of 2020, and everybody went online.
I talked to a high school teacher who always had this daily interaction with another student who would always say, “Hey, Mr. Hey, Mr. Jay, how are you?” It was just like it was kind of a nothing, just a routine thing.
He started texting him every day. Hey, it’s the same kind of exact cadence of, “Hey, Mr. Jay, how you doing?” Whatever it was. And he did it every day at the same time. Every day. And it was like that was like that’s a joyful thing that like, yes, I’m going to do that with you and I will keep doing it. And again, it wasn’t some grand gesture or anything like that. It was just like that’s the human connection that we desire and that we live off.
Small Kindnesses Make a Big Difference
Students wrote notes to my doctor and the nurses when I went for surgery. I brought in this big massive stack of cards. So, we pray at my school. So a lot of them were prayer cards. And as I’m waiting, which was about a seven-hour wait actually, and not having eaten.
So that was I had a lot of time to talk. The nurses were weeping at just the kindness of the kids. And, you know, there’s just so many little things we do have that are beautiful—the beauty of human connection.
And I know it’s difficult, but having this reflective time, I’m reminded of what we do have. Yes, we have stress, but we have, you know, I missed out on junior-senior. I missed out on all those promposals, all the craziness.
I missed out on something called Sherwood Cup, which is kind of like a field day. Yeah, I know that those can annoy us, but we have a lot of fun when we do those things too, you know?
We Can Embrace Two Emotions at Once
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And you know, the other thing, too, Vicki, that I try to embrace is, you know, sort of the, you know, the dissonance that happens to like, we don’t want to, but we have to be able to embrace two things at once, right, that you can like.
It’s hard to believe that people can actually be joyful and sad at the same time. Like, that’s possible. Like that’s a weird thing, and it’s not natural. We all are such sort of pleasure seekers, right?
Like we just always want good things. Like when, you know, kids will say, “Oh, I wish it was Christmas every day.”
And when you think about it, it’s like, “No, you don’t. You actually don’t want it to be Christmas every day.”
It’s great, but you need all those other times. And, you know, during this time too, you’re accepting the fact that, again, not everybody’s experiencing life the same way. I fully acknowledge the privilege that I have in my life like it is everywhere I look, and I’m grateful for it and recognize that not everybody has the same things I have. And many of those things aren’t anything that I’ve done to deserve. I have them, and I’m grateful for them. But at the same time, I can also be aware that that’s true and connected to anybody following me on Twitter like I’m there like I do try to inject a little bit of joy by sharing silliness and like just life. And sometimes, I connect with people, and I’ve made wonderful friendships because of that.
Howard Rheingold talks about idle chatter being the social glue that creates reciprocity and community, right? And so idle chatter, I’m a big fan of idle chatter.
We Can Be Concerned About Big World Problems and Still Have a Life
Anyways, I don’t even remember what I said. It was something about, you know, I think it was about waiting in front of Michael’s while my wife’s there. And it’s just the ongoing trope of, you know, me, the, the dopey husband and the wife was dragging me shopping, and I get it like it’s but, you know, it’s fun, right?
And somebody tweeted back and said something about, “well, that’s real first-world problems.” And then they had hashtags about the War in the Ukraine.
And it’s like, “I get that you’re probably in your moment in time. That’s the thing that’s top of your mind.”
But like the world is happening while all of these horrible things are happening. And to not say like, yeah, both can happen. You know, I can have fun talking about my relationship with my wife and marriage and also be concerned about what’s happening in Ukraine.
Like I can do both, and we have to do both. Right. And it was just kind of an idea, you know, I kind of had to say to her, I said, listen, I said, “I apologize, but I said, I’ve been pretty clear about what my Twitter accounts for. So I said, like, it’s easy to unfollow me, and you wouldn’t hurt my feelings at all if you did.”
And again, that’s people’s choice. I get that. And I think that’s the other thing is that we honor that everybody comes out with a different take.
Toxic Positivity vs. Genuine Joyfulness: There Is a Difference
I mean, we talk, you know, sort of the challenge of toxic positivity that that sometimes emerges. And, you know, I don’t ever want to be guilty of that because it’s not about whitewashing the bad. Like just because you celebrate the good and just because you feed your soul through joyful things, it doesn’t mean that you’re ignoring the fact that the bad things happen. Right?
And there are problems in the world and in our schools that need to be addressed. Absolutely not. But again, it’s that idea that both of these things can be going on at the same time while.
The Challenge of Being on Social Media
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That ambient irritability, which in some ways, I’m not going to say that someone who stands with Ukraine is being irritable. However, that’s one of the issues that Twitter’s got to deal with right now. It is somewhat hard to share on Twitter right now because of just the angst or the anger or whatever it is.
I mean, I’m still there. I’m still sharing. And I saw somebody tweet the other day, “thank you to all the educators out there who were still encouraging people and sharing positive things on Twitter. We need more of you.”
And we do. We need to inundate it. Share those good things.
I think Twitter’s more efficient than Instagram and Tik Tok, although I’m looking at those accounts because I want to connect with educators.
What Can We Do to Bring More Joy to Campus?
So as we finish up, Dean, as folks are listening to this and thinking, okay, we’re nearing the end of the school year, what can I do to bring some joy to my campus? What would you tell them? What would be your pep talk for them?
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As educators and as leaders, I think providing space and time for people to pause and reflect and sort of if you can slow it down a bit. You’ve been in, you know, doing virtual sessions. I’ve been fortunate to do a couple of face-to-face events lately, but being more cognizant of not just pushing through the agenda to get through, but to take time to have people think about, you know, that like the pausing to think about the good things. But also, you know, as I’m talking to teachers to reflect on people’s learning.
Reflection is Part of Joy
And I know that there are people who think, well, you know, kids haven’t learned and learning loss and all that other kind of business. But, you know, I think we’re always learning; everybody’s learning all the time like that never actually stops.
Whether you’re learning the things that somebody else wants you to learn or whatever, to challenge one another, to celebrate the fact that, okay, so what’s been going on in the last whatever it is, month, year and a half, or however, whatever time frame you choose, because we’re really poor as a species for doing that reflective stuff. You know, you and I have been blogging a long time, and I think we both got into that with the promise. And it still is a promise. I’m certainly not as diligent at it as it was, but this was a great practice of reflection, and we know how important that is in learning. And it’s just one that, like, we can’t do enough of it. Like there’s we cannot do enough reflection.
Students Need Opportunities to Reflect Too
And so and there are so many multiple ways of doing it, you know, and again, we know that kids need numerous opportunities to whether it’s to write, whether it’s to create a video, whether it’s to sketch something out or, you know, whatever way a form you like, and you want to explore. But, you know, once you’ve done that and crystallized your thoughts and said, okay, yeah, boy, that was good. I did kind of, you know, that’s what will encourage you to sort of keep going.
So I think I think pausing to reflect would be my tip for teachers.
End of Year Focus Groups and Surveys
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Which is fantastic. You know, I always have focus groups and anonymous surveys and group forms to get feedback and, you know, not just, “Hey, what did I do right?”
I always ask, what is the absolute worst thing that we learned this year that you just hated?
And then my goal is that the next year it’ll be turned into the best because I feel like if I if, I’m a great teacher, I could turn that around and make it a great list.
Vicki: And it’s happened before, and it’s always very fulfilling.
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So Dean Shareski, @shareski on Twitter.
I don’t know how long you and I have been out there on Twitter. But it’s been a while, although we’re experimenting in new spaces and new places. But you know what? We never have to grow old, do we?
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We can’t choose when we die, but we can choose if we’re going to be old or not. And I know for me, and it sounds like for you, we’re both going to be young and
Sound effects “applause.”
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Dean: There we go.
Vicki: Keep on living in life. And it’s a lot of fun.
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Dean Shareski: I got one more in. Thank you!
Thank You, Advancement Courses, for Sponsoring Today’s Show
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Last summer, I took my professional development with Advancement Courses, and I am so glad that I did on my blog. I recently shared 10 Ways to Rejuvenate and Learn This Summer. All of the course ideas come from the advancement courses catalog to go to https://www.coolcatteacher.com/top10.
Learn about some courses you might want to take and things you need to do this summer. Your current needs should impact your professional development. Advancement Courses makes it so easy to complete your PD with courses that are online and self-paced so you can take them anywhere any time with up to six months to complete. And right now you can use the code cool. 15 to get 15% off your course today. So go to www.coolcatteacher.com/top10 and begin deciding what you want to learn this summer.
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John Davis (Announcer and Producer)
You’ve been listening to the Ten Minute Teacher podcast. If you like this program, you can find more at www.coolcatteacher.com. If you wish to see more content by Vicki Davis, you can find her on Facebook and Twitter under @coolcatteacher.
Thank you for listening.