I work with middle schoolers and I love it. They are blunt, curious and can drive me crazy one minute and crack me up the next. They’re at that pivotal age where they are developing real interests and hobbies that may eventually become careers. They are figuring out where they want to go to high school, who they want to associate with, how they want to be seen, and generally making more choices than ever before. Yes, they are still kids. But at the same time, they are a mere several years from adulthood, and are forming habits of thought that may follow them into their next phase of life.
At school, we spend a lot of time what it takes to be successful, and set goals relating to achieving more personal success. I’ve been thinking that it might be worth trying a new approach, where we set goals for becoming more happy with the assumption that greater happiness improves productivity which influences success. After all, it is a lot harder to develop the habits of a successful person: studiousness, focus, independence, and drive, when there lacks a deeper sense of well being. It’s not something we usually talk about in the classroom, but I’m eager to experiment.
I also think adolescence is the perfect time to start talking explicitly about choices, especially the small, daily ones one makes. I’m inclined to think that they all matter: walking to school versus sitting on a bus, participating in after school curricular activities versus going straight home, trying something new rather than sticking with the familiar. I believe it’s these little things we do or don’t do every day that can make all the difference, both now and as we grow up.
Fund for Teachers is supporting my month-long travels throughout Denmark, happiest country on earth, to explore the connection between lifestyle choices and well being. I hope to inspire my students back home during my visit, and upon return, have a rich conversation about positive choices and positive consequences.