JJ Ossi---- JJ, you are the master of well-crafted play. I have seen you do the thing you do, and it is pure magic. Can you give me some tips on maintaining a playful outlook in life and in the classroom, especially those of us that deal with older kids? When I send you my most difficult kids for a day they come back all aglow. I want the magic!
First of all thank you for such a lovely compliment. Answering your question will prove what a "Pollyanna" dork I am. I think it is a mixture of Mary Poppins (spoonful of sugar) and the Golder Rule (I try to treat others how I want to be treated). I am a worrywart by nature. I missed out on a great deal of joyful experiences due to sitting out because I was afraid of failing and of embarrassing myself. I discovered I was missing out on the great joy of life. I make the choice every day to seek joy! Some days are tougher than others, but a day without it is a wasted day. Approach each task with joy and each of them feels more like play. Let's be honest, play is more fun than work so I choose to make work feel like play. I believe if I can make the students believe that they have played all day and magically also learned the things that they need to know then I have accomplished my goal. I want my class to be joyous, so that I can create a love of learning that will hopefully follow them throughout their lives.
I also believe that my responsibility as a human is to treat each person that I meet with kindness and love. As cliche as that sounds it is the way to change the world. If I have something kind to say, I say it. If I have something harsh to say, I say it with kindness. I realize (through personal experience) that my words have power. A small greeting, a little compliment can brighten someone else's day, which in turn can impact how they treat the people they encounter that day.
I have no tolerance for cruelty and great respect for kindness. If you can accomplish the same goal with play as you can the other way, I choose my way. It always ends with a smile.
Every day I must choose how to live. Each day I choose joy. I choose it for myself and I choose to spread it around if I am able. I hope to live a life that will make my daughters proud. I also want my daughters to have happiness daily. I realized I should want the same for myself so I choose it daily. It is not magic, just like every other area of life, you must choose how you handle it. I choose love, kindness, and joy.