Joy. What I love about teaching is joy! Often we teachers are tired– and at times — burned out. Other times, we are frustrated, when we work hard and have contradicting tasks and overwhelming responsibilities: meeting deadlines, and figuring out how to motivate all children, while differentiating our lessons to help all children succeed.
Yet, it is joy that keeps me teaching year after year. The other day , the sun came out just after a difficult lesson. Children had worked hard and it was time for a break. I like to make sure that our “brain breaks” nurture joy.
We go outside and sing a new song we have learned, Hockey Pokey. Children struggle to balance on one foot while they “put the right foot in!” This is a song I sang in preschool, so it always brings me joy. Singing is one of my favorite ways to immediately bring a smile to all children’s faces.
I watch as children balance on one foot, gradually gaining balance and coordination as they shake the other foot in the center of the circle. We play together, laugh, and sometimes stumble and pick ourselves up again.
That is life in a nutshell. The laughter connects us, our common humanity –and echoes in our hearts– with our love of learning.
In the Spanish version of the song, children jump up and down at the end of each verse and clap their hands over their head. We sing the song in both Spanish and English. The exercise warms us up, and gets the blood flowing after sitting as they completed their morning lesson.
Children love to sing, clap, chant, recite rhymes, make sounds and make up words that at times may have no meaning. The laughter warms heart, like the sunshine on a warm afternoon. Children are having fun, however, equally important is that this activity is language learning in action.
Music provides a light-hearted and fun way for us to interact with another language and culture. Each week we learn new songs from our bilingual song book, each one sharing another aspect of culture and the beauty and richness of language.
And, not surprisingly, it is joy that keep children learning, and learning more.