Shana Tillotson and Matt Brault at Tomsett Elementary

“What Gives You Joy?”

The Recess Road Trips I started a couple years ago have  become lunch hour visits to schools to chat with the staff.  I can’t seem to break that road trip habit, and that’s a good thing.  Usually we do some small talk while I table hop as of a way of leading up to any questions people may have.

Lately I’ve starting asking some questions of my own during these visits, and that’s been a game changer.

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Darlene Shandola walks through her curtain of hearts

The title of this post, “What gives you joy?” was the question I asked a couple weeks ago.  I’d stopped in at Spul’u'kwuks Elementary before Valentine’s Day., and the whole staff room was a red and pink V day spectacle, complete with a curtain of hearts you had to pass through to get in the room.  So the question, “What gives you joy? just naturally  came out of that.  I started out with Principal Darlene Shandola, as she looked so plain joyful coming through that curtain of hearts that I had to ask her about it.  Here’s what she said,

“It has to do with kids – when their eyes light up after they understand something new, or when they can do something they couldn’t do before.”

Heartened by that answer, I kept this line of questioning going when I went to Tomsett Elementary last week. They were happy to talk about what gives them joy.

Terri Inouye, an Educational  Assistant, started by saying she was new to the staff, so she didn’t want to say anything too “out there”.  Since this blog is “out there” by definition I said I’d just use her first name, but we agreed “Terri from Tomsett” wouldn’t be very anonymous. Luckily she let me use her whole name,  because she had a lovely and shareworthy thing to say.

“The joy of it is when a really shy kid comes up and makes a joke with you at recess, or when you see them suddenly sharing the swing just the way we’ve worked so hard to teach them.”

EA Marney Booth, added, ” It’s the way they interact with you when you least expect it, and start  making jokes or talking about Minecraft.  I love that rapport with kids that comes when you least expect it.”

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Jackie and I share joy in her children’s art

At the next table I sat with grade 4 teacher Jackie Flewelling, who told me she gets joy out of the art her students create together and  how they volunteer to clean up.  “More and more kids pitch in to help, and it just makes me happy to see it.”

Jackie’s students’ art gives me joy too.  It’s wonderful, and I told her she was already quite famous, as we’ve been enjoying her students’ “Salmon Mural” at the office for over a year.

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Salmon Mural by Jackie Flewelling’s grade 3/4 class




Last, but certainly not least, I sat down with Shana Tillotson and Matt Brault, pictured in the feature photo .  Shana’s a grade 7 teacher at Tomsett, and Matt is a TTOC. They didn’t lack for joy either.

Shana told me, ” I love it when kids make these funny comments.  The other day in the gym I was repeating some instructions – for the third  time – and I overheard one boy say, ‘Didn’t she already tell us this?’  His friend looked at him in a patient way and said, ‘She says she has to say it 17 times before we remember it, so you’re going to hear it 13 more times.’ They are just so funny. I love it.”

Matt’s joyful moment came when he arrived to take over a class as a TTOC.  “The  Principal was in there, and when I came in the door the kids all started to cheer.  That really made me feel good.”

Principal Darryl Unger commented that the kids clearly liked Matt a lot more than they liked him, which seemed to add to Matt’s joy.

So there you have it.  While these answers are all different, one thing is clear; you get your joy from the children you work with. It’s just that simple, and just that wonderful too.

Not surprisingly, with such joyful adults around them, Spul’u'kwuks and Tomsett also have joyful children.  If you want a little more joy, check out previous posts  As the Worm Turns and Ms Matheson’s Mittens.

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