When I was in middle school, I didn’t have young teachers. We sat in 50-minute classes and took notes diligently. There were no games, no unique opportunities to learn, nothing—just textbooks and reading. When I decided to become a teacher, I vowed to always have fun in the classroom. One unique feature on my school’s campus is that we have a young staff. Almost everyone is under 35-years-old, so we have a lot of fun because we keep up with the latest trends and pop culture and embed it into the classroom.
Although I’m not having fun with the amount of testing we do, I try to have fun with my students. One way I do it is with the classroom themes I use. Last year, I had a Harry Potter theme. Each table was a House—Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw. Each month, when I changed the seating chart, I had a sorting ceremony. The eighth graders still talk about their “House” to the seventh graders, who currently have a basketball theme. I always choose themes where I can divide students into teams and calculate team points. In addition to class themes, I try to have little contests and raffles. This satisfies my shopping fetish, but it also shows students that I’m willing to invest money into them. My class isn’t just about grades, but about engagement. If students aren’t engaged or interested, then they aren’t going to enjoy the content nor will they respect the teacher.
Having fun at work is not limited to only the classroom. Being the competitive person that I am, I love to compete with my coworkers on trivial things. It helps the school year go faster, and allows me to have a good attitude. Last month, one of my work sisters, the counselor, and I had a friendly competition of raising money for Pennies for Patients. Throughout the entire month, students were watching the bulletin board for updates and finding all of the loose change they could find to donate to their teacher/counselor of choice. Of course, there were other teachers in the contest, but they were non-factors. The contest went until the very last minute of that Friday. In the end, my advisory class ended up in second place, but we received free dress and an ice cream party.
Another great way to have fun on campus has been being in on jokes with other teachers. Since our main source of communication between teachers is email, we use it to our advantage. On any given day, we send our funny memes to each other just to get through the two-hour period. It’s especially clutch when students are testing and there is no grading to do.
Being a teacher is not just educating, but enjoying your job. This is the time of the school year where we are doing a bunch of testing, the kids are getting even more unmotivated, and Spring Break is lagging (still two weeks away!!), so we really have to find the joy in everything. What do you do to keep from going insane?