Teacher/author Laurie McIntosh shares ways to bring joy back into teaching through practices of authenticity and connection.
My top takeaways from Laurie & the joy of teaching:
- Change is inevitable in education but how you relate to it is essential
- Weariness is the opposite of wellness in schools
- Connection is a priority for educators as is the feeling of worthiness
- Plan for joy and bring it in your most authentic way
Video is t the end of this blog post
What led Laurie to education.
In the first twelve minutes of this conversation we get to learn a little about Laurie and what led her to education. We also discuss the challenges of going through so many changes in education.
Like many of us, Laurie’s road to teaching didn’t start directly in education. It was the changes, challenges and cheerleaders in her life that helped her find her way into being a happy and creative kindergarten teacher.
Many of us fear change.
Yet, it’s changing that forces us out of our comfort zone to explore life from a different perspective. We can resist and fight these changes, or we can lean in and welcome the opportunity to grow. One of the ways we can support ourselves through change is by being okay in the mess and sitting in the discomfort.
Laurie reminds us we are more capable and resilient than we can realize.
Change is inevitable.
I asked Laurie what reminders does she need and/or offer to others when going through change? She prompted us to instead of seeing change as something scary, we can look at it as an opportunity for growth.
Change is a chance to restart.
Be something new.
Become something new.
Change can bring renewed energy and a space for celebration.
What does it look like to be “well” in education?
Around fourteen minutes into this amazing conversation, Laurie and I start to discuss what it looks like to be well in education.
Well is not the feeling of being weary.
Weariness doesn’t come from the children but from the broken systems.
What does weariness look like at schools for the teachers?
- Less desire to do the things we love
- Low creativity for fun lessons
- Less patience with ourselves and our students
- Feeling withdrawn and disconnected from our colleagues.
A well and healthy school has educators who are not always weary. Wellness is the opposite of constant weariness. Laurie believes that a “well” school is a place of healing not place of harm.
Well and healthy schools support everyone in the community – not just the children, but the families, the teachers, the kids all come to heal together in the community.
Well is a place of healing where there is grace and kindness for wherever someone is on their journey.
Well is a place where we can speak openly and be cared for in community – connected communities where people feel seen, valued and heard.
Wellness happens in connection
Awfulize: Taking something new and making it awful.
When schools are a place of weariness change is extra hard and educators become awfulizers. It’s how many educators process change – they pick it apart and make it awful and go down the path of negativity rather than looking at change as an opportunity.
Laurie believes in a school community where we can say what we feel without judgement and we are still worthy to be humans in the system. When we spend so much time working in silos we need to make an effort to connect and value each other. Connection is the key.
When we know each other and care for each other during moments of struggle we heal together in the community. When we have permission to say:
“I’m human and I’m going to suffer and I’m going to have those times that I struggle AND I’m still worthy.”
Meeting our own needs as educators.
What we want for our students- love, happiness, empathy, kindness etc. we all want and deserve as educators.
One of my favourite moments in this interview is when Laurie shares when she realized that her students could meet her needs in so many ways. They bring her joy of teaching, happiness, empathy and connection.
She went into education thinking she was going to be a “fixer” and quickly realized that no one was broken. Kids aren’t problems to be fixed they are humans who need to be loved and cherished and, she as an educator, was worthy of the same humanness.
Modelling these practices for our students.
You are also worthy.
We continue to create well and safe spaces in school when we continue to do our own healing and we model what it means to be kind and caring towards ourselves. When we model healing it gives others permission to be human and heal on their journey as well.
- Humanize and normalize repair and apologize to children.
- Model healing.
- Model how we regulate ourselves so our kids can learn how to do this.
What keeps you going when it’s hard?
Laurie and I wrapped up this conversation with a deep dive into joy at school. And it’s around the thirty-third minute that we see Laurie’s intention around joy in schools and how her face lights up when she talks about planning for joy in her lessons.
Find what brings you joy.
I love how Laurie learned to thoughtfully plan for joy as part of her lessons by asking: “How are you bringing joy to the space for the day.“
Joy can be authentic and real in small ways especially when we consider how am I going to be well in this space, and how am I going to bring joy to it?
“Just by the virtue I am me and you are you, we are going to do things differently and that’s okay”
Bringing your authentic self to the classroom and use your own authentic voice.
Find the amazingly creative ways that Laurie shares on her Instagram page and how her authentic, joyful voice shows up.
Laurie leaves us with one last thought… what do we want from our learners?
“I want you to fall in love with this place and I want you to come back tomorrow for more.”
If you want to watch more of my Teacher Talk Interviews, feel free to check them out on my Youtube Channel.