The title says it all here.  The question then becomes, “How do you make teachers happy?”

Happy Teachers are Driven Teachers

I would like to take some time to refer to Daniel Pink, a motivational speaker in the business world.  He is an author, consultant and speaker who speaks mostly of business related issues, but his message rings true for education!

Pink’s latest book, Drive, is on my summer reading list, so I haven’t had the opportunity to read it yet, but he has spoken about the topic quite often: What DRIVES people?  What motivates them to work?  Here is a video of his speech centering around motivation:


The one factor that leads to motivation that really sticks out for me is autonomy: the ability to be self-governing, to have independence and the ability to make your own decisions.  This is something that many teachers lack and could possibly be the number one reason why we teachers might be unhappy with our jobs.  If we have no control over what goes on in our classrooms, what is truly driving us?

Beth Cavalier, a teacher on my team in Amesbury and guest blogger in April, wrote about the ways in which she feels freedom in her job as a classroom teacher.  This is analogous to autonomy.  When you understand your structure, but can see the freedom you have, your position in your job can be seen as autonomous.  To get a taste of what this might mean, please read Beth’s post on Freedom in Curriculum Development.

Happy Teachers are Provided For

In the May/June issue of Instructor Magazine, there was a short sidebar titled “Give Teachers What They Need”.  Along with higher pay, a stocked supply closet and school safety, were some key variables that keep coming up in the blog series this month:

  • Face time with grown-ups – We need to be able to work with one another, collaborate, and discuss issues.
  • Professional development that doesn’t put us to sleep – All too often the PD in schools is not effective, dare I say boring.  I hear it all the time from teachers all over the continent!  Happy teachers come out of collegial sharing through PLCs and PLNs
  • A friendly teachers’ lounge – Who doesn’t want to share their 20-30 minute lunch with people they like and enjoy!  When we can casually connect with our work buddies, our days are much more enjoyable overall.

It’s safe to say that teachers yearn to be working in a collegial environment where they are valued as talented, hard-working professionals.  (Who wouldn’t?)

The Final Link

So – the final link is this – When a teacher is happy, due to the pleasant and empowering work environment he or she works in, then naturally the students will see this, feel this and be invigorated by this.

The problem is that this is not happening as often as it should.  Too often we hear of teachers who are stressed out because of a lack of support, a dwindling budget, pressure from NCLB, and a myriad of other factors.  Just the other day, I read a tweet from someone who was questioning his decision to be a teacher.  We really need to think about this!  We need to help ourselves be happy in what we do, remind us why we teach in the first place.

Happy teachers are more effective in their day to day tasks.  Happy teachers smile more.  Happy teachers are more driven to do well.  Happy teachers are what we want in our schools and what we want to be!

Are you a Happy Teacher?  Please join the conversation and post your comment to this article!

Seventh Assignment:

SMILE!  (Even if it hurts!)

Extra credit – find a colleague, share a story and smile together!