There are as many different ways to make teachers happy as there are teachers. The smell of a Sharpie. A student finally getting the concept you’ve been teaching all week. A weekend with no papers to grade. That’s just the beginning. We asked the members of the WeAreTeachers HELPLINE to fill in the blank, and their answers will make you laugh and maybe even cry a little. You’re sure to feel happier after reading this list (though it wouldn’t hurt to pour yourself a tall glass of wine before you start). So, here we go: Teacher happiness is …
… the Target Dollar Spot, fully stocked.
Sure, you think you’re just going to run in and grab some milk and toilet paper, but then those colorful overflowing bins catch your eye, and you know you’ve lost. Don’t worry. Lauren L. totally gets it, and so do we.
… when they ask you to read just one more chapter.
Building a love of reading is one of the most important things a teacher can do, and we agree with Robyn G. When they beg for one more chapter, you know you’re doing something right.
… smiling faces.
Phil P. loves “the smiles on their little faces when they greet me in the morning.” How can you argue with that?
… when they call you Mom by accident.
When they mistake you for the person they love and trust more than anyone in the world? Yeah, we agree, Jessica F.D. That’s a good moment.
… student thank-you notes.
Mary Ellen M. knows the joy of getting a thank-you note from a struggling student, and Krista H. points out they’re even better when they’re handwritten.
… thankful parents.
Elena B. loves it when a parent thanks her for all she’s done for their struggling student. Feeling appreciated just warms the heart.
… when they say they love school.
Alice J. knows the ultimate compliment when she hears it, but Christine H. takes it up a notch: “When your students are excited to come to SUMMER SCHOOL!”
… the hugs at the end of the day.
Even when their hands are sticky, there’s nothing like a child’s hug, and Linda W. knows it.
… teacher solidarity.
You know that solidarity you feel when kids are acting wild, you make eye contact with the teacher across the hall, and you give each other a little nod? Yeah, Katherine D.T. does too.
… colored pens.
Heather R. loves colored pens. Mary W. wants gel pens—new ones. Sheenna Z. prefers Flair pens. Me, I love a good Sharpie. But let’s be honest, they’re all good.
… new boxes of crayons and presharpened pencils.
Speaking of school supplies, what’s better than new boxes of crayons? Pair those up with presharpened pencils, and your day is made, right, Katie M.?
… school supplies you don’t have to pay for.
OK, really, school supplies in general contribute a lot to teacher happiness. But when they’re paid for out of someone else’s pocket? Jessica B. knows that’s pure bliss.
… when students request you for next year.
Matt S. knows the great feeling you get when your reputation precedes you, and that reputation is GOOD.
… finished lesson plans.
Even better when they’re done by someone else, says Shannon F.R. Bonus points if they’re actually just short plans, and not pages and pages long, according to Jill C.H. Amen!
… supportive admins.
Zoe W. feels you should never underestimate the value of a principal who’s got your back.
… when students exceed their own expectations.
Michael F.M. knows that every student has potential greatness within, and watching them believe it and achieve it is something to treasure.
… when students enjoy learning.
Getting kids to learn how to learn and love doing it, that’s teacher happiness, according to Megan P.
For Shelly S., laughter and learning go hand in hand. A fun classroom is an engaged classroom!
… when they actually listen.
Ah, that special glow when you give instructions and no one says, “Wait, what are we supposed to be doing?” Yeah, Sandra H. knows that feeling.
… summer vacation.
No matter how great the school year is, summer vacations are still the best, says Zoe W. Mary W. points out they’re even better when you don’t have to work at summer school (or lesson plan, or attend professional development, or work another job … )
… the aha! moments.
So many teachers live for these precious moments when all their work at last pays off. “The lightbulb moment … when you can tell they get it!” says Carla V. That’s what it’s all about.
… when they tell you how much you matter.
Christina J.L. loves making a connection with her students, and Jazmin D. can’t help but be happy when her students come back and tell her she’s the reason they’re still around. Melissa J. sums it up: “Teacher happiness is being able to build relationships with kids that are at risk and hopefully having an impact on the trajectory of their lives.”
When all else fails, Jennifer M. knows there will always be wine. (And tequila for full moons, according to Linda W.)