Give Joy a Chance

Jillian DuBoisBlog, Self Care Better, Teach Happier


  • Among all of the changes this school year, students just want to know they can still do what they love.
  • Going through this school year brings an opportunity for a major transformation in pedagogy.
  • Despite so many things being different than original expectations, educators will adapt to the changes like they always do.

My favorite part of each new year as an educator is the anticipation of the joyful exuberance and delight in preparing for my students. I spend my time and efforts carefully organizing my classroom, ensuring that it is an inviting, comfortable, physical, and emotional environment that will bring joy to my 2nd grade students. I arrange desks, textbooks, cubbies, bookshelves, and bulletin boards ever so carefully to guarantee that all systems will align perfectly as planned. 

This was the year that I just KNEW it would all go according to my well-thought-out blueprint. After all, that is what a teacher does best, right? Grasp control of any situation like a superhero, take hold of joy in the classroom setting, and flawlessly execute it to excellence.

They simply wanted to be assured that they could still do the things that they love. Click To Tweet

Give joy a chance: Ready, set, and…GO.

These initiatives materialized on that first day as students anxiously entered the classroom with wide eyes full of innocence. They came armed with masks, wipes, hand sanitizer, and school supplies, ready for the adventure. As I welcomed each one at a social distance, their smiles immediately melted away the nervousness I felt.

As you could imagine, I didn’t execute everything flawlessly. I soon realized that traditional methods and mindsets needed redirection. Each minute of those first few days, I was transitioning my original plans into alternative, innovative ways of instruction. I began to let go of my constrained reasoning and leaned into the satisfaction of seeking joy in my teaching.

It didn’t LOOK or FEEL the same. 

It felt BETTER.

Change brings freedom.

I don’t think I fully understood at that moment, but I was about to undergo a major transformation in my pedagogy through authentic enlightenment. I carefully contemplated those routines that were so intrinsically formulated into my lesson plans and tossed them to the side. 

How could my philosophy evolve quickly and confidently?

Through thoughtful ‘heart work’.

I started widening my aperture and looking introspectively at my “WHY”s—all 22 of them seated directly in front of me. I polled my students, asking them to list for me their top three concerns for the new school year.

The highest-ranking answers from students were:

  1. Is it okay to hug my friends and teachers?
  2. How will everybody fit into the lunchroom?
  3. Will we still have recess?

That’s it. The concerns of 2nd graders. They were not troubled by seating arrangements, not being able to share school supplies and books, completing homework assignments, performing well on spelling tests, or mastering math lessons.

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They simply wanted to be assured that they could still do the things that they love.

This year will be disrupted in many ways, yet it will be incredibly remarkable.

We have only just begun, yet our journey already has us laughing, dancing, thinking, wondering, and using all efforts to confound traditional methodologies to experience new paths to learning. 

Together, we will adapt to change as a team and engage in creative ways to give joy a chance this year.

Just watch us.

About Jillian DuBois

Jillian DuBois currently serves as an elementary school educator in Clearwater, FL. She has worked both in public and private educational settings for over 20 years. Her passion is to initiate, instill, and infuse joy to those in educational leadership through blogs and podcasts. Jillian uses her voice to help foster hope for student equity and empathy. Outside of school, you will find Jillian outdoors, soaking up the sun and surf, or finding new paths to hike with her husband and son. You can visit her website here!