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Unlock the Secrets on How to Find Joy as a First Year Teacher with Emily Person

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Have you ever struggled with how to find joy as a first year teacher? You start off the year with your teacher sparkle strong, and each day is a new adventure. Yet slowly, but surely that passion slowly begins to fade.

Each day, little by little, your joy begins to fade. Days turn into weeks, turns into months. You might even ask yourself things like:

  • How do I get my teacher sparkle back?
  • I’m just not passionate about teaching anymore.
  • Why does the teaching profession feel so negative lately?

But what if I told you it didn’t have to be that way? In this week’s podcast episode I interview Emily Person from Teach Your Joy, and we talk about all things Joy!

So if you are a new teacher looking to find joy as a first year teacher, grab that cup of coffee and let’s get started!

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    [su_spoiler title=”How to Find Joy as a First Year Teacher in the New Year” style=”fancy”]Emily (00:00): Just be true to you. Like if I, if I had known what I know now and be like, Hey, like you’re gonna be successful, it’s going to be okay, but be true to you. I feel like my first year teaching would’ve gone a lot smoother had I have, you know, known that. Um, and that it’s, it’s okay. Like it’s, you’re gonna make mistakes and that’s okay. We’re gonna work through them. But just, I would say be true to you. Be authentic. Helena (00:27): Hey teacher bestie. My name’s Helena and I’m the creator of the President Teacher podcast. I’m a first year teacher coach and in this podcast you are gonna learn everything from simple actual classroom management, social emotional learning, and teacher wellness strategies, you know, that impact you wanna make in the classroom. We’re gonna make it happen here. Helena (00:49): Hey teacher besties. I’m here with Emily from Teacher Joy and I am so excited to introduce you because she is an amazing person inside. Now I’ve gone live with her a couple times on Instagram and I’m so excited for you to meet here. So welcome Emily. I’m so glad you’re here. Emily (01:05): Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here. Um, I was telling you earlier, this is my first podcast interview, so I’m so excited, um, to get to know all of you and hang out today. Helena (01:16): Yeah, thank you so much for being here. I’m so excited to get to know you more and I know the listeners are excited to hear more about how we can incorporate joy into our day. So do you mind telling us a little bit about yourself and your journey in teaching? Emily (01:30): Absolutely. Uh, so hi, my name is Emily person. Um, you can find me at Instagram at Teacher Joy. And I have very, very interesting teaching career. So I um, was born and raised in Wichita, Kansas and I actually went to school to become a doctor. Um, it shocks a lot of people when I tell them that. Um, but uh, once I took my mcat I realized that that wasn’t for me and I started teaching in Kansas and then I met a boy in Texas. So I moved to Texas for their alternative certification program in Dallas. And I taught um, for three years in Dallas. And I started teaching in 2019. So if we do that math, my first year was when Covid hit and uh, last year I, or no, this school year I actually moved to sch a different school district. So I’m closer to home and I teach second grade. So, and then for three years I taught at an all boy school, which also shocks a lot of people. . Helena (02:31): Yeah. What did you go to? What did you wanna be a doctorate in or what were you studying? Emily (02:38): I was, I wanted to be a pediatric intensivist, so working nice. Yeah, so really, really sick kids. And I originally got into it cause I wanted to build relationships with parents in a really tough time in their child’s life. And most of the time in medicine you see people for a short period of time and you can’t build that relationship. But when they are in a really tough spot you get to build those relationships more. But I realized that that was probably gonna be a very sad career path and I like teaching so much more. Every job that I had ever had leading up to college was with kids in some capacity. So that’s why I chose teaching . Helena (03:15): So when did you decide, or when was the moment that you decided that teaching was the, the path you wanted to go to? So you were taking your exam, realized it wasn’t for you, and then what kind of made you lean towards teaching? Emily (03:28): So it’s kind of a really roundabout way. When I graduated college, I really wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I knew I wanted to take a gap year between graduating from college and then taking the MCAT so I could have a year to study. And I did and I was working as a pediatric scheduler so I scheduled speech therapy and occupational therapy services and I really hated that job. You were sitting behind a desk all day long. I didn’t have the best boss and I just knew I needed a way out. And so what had ha ended up happening was when I wanted to get outta that job, I didn’t know what I was going to do. So I became an avid tutor and a para at a middle school and it was when I was there that I was like, oh these teachers, like I really like what they get to do all day long. Emily (04:16): I thought it was fun, I wanted nothing more. This is gonna sound crazy to all the teachers out there. I wanted nothing more than to be able to grade papers and make lesson plans and hang out with kids all day long. Like it looked like fun and I was having fun doing it. So it was at that point that I was taking my MCAT and was like, maybe I could be a teacher. Like that could be possible. And at that time there were a lot of teachers that I was working with that you know, told me that there were other avenues to becoming a teacher. I had no idea that there were alternative certification programs or graduate programs where you could become a teacher. Helena (04:51): Yeah. So glad you became a teacher because now I get to hang out. Yeah. Um, so it’s funny you say that because when I was in high school I was kind of like a assistant that was kind of, they didn’t allow free cl free classes per se. So I was go to my high school teachers and I would do grading for them and I had so much fun and now I kind of, eh, I have a love-hate relationship with some grading like essays. No thank you. But I kind of enjoy it now and I enjoyed it back then so that’s kind of funny you say that. Mm-hmm . Um, so how was your first year of teaching? What was your experience like? Emily (05:29): It was rough and that’s putting it lightly. I mean I didn’t do traditional student teaching, they just, I did some observation hours over the summer at some schools in Dallas and then you have one month of training and they teach you everything they can in that month like, and it was wild. And then they stick you in a classroom and they’re like good luck. So my student teaching, I was teaching as a teacher alone in a classroom teacher on record and I just had no idea what I was doing. It was insane. And then on top of that it was an all boys school that was an up and becoming school and it was a lot . I would stay late. Um, I worked 30 minutes from like I was 30 miles from the school. So essentially I would, I commute was 30 minutes in the morning and then an hour to an hour and a half home on the way back. Emily (06:23): So what I would do is I told myself I was beating traffic by staying till seven o’clock at night and then I quickly realized that in 12 hours I would have to be back and start all over again. And I did that. I wanna say for the better part of that whole first semester of me teaching and I wasn’t getting anything done. I thought I was being productive. No, I was not it, it was a lot. I wasn’t expecting student behaviors. I thought that when you teach like it’s like oh sweetheart, it’s okay. And I quickly learned that I could not be as soft as I thought I needed to be, especially with the classroom of all boys. And then we come back after break and I feel revitalized, like I’m feeling good. I got to go to Ron Clark. I was leaving at a better time, still late but not, you know, seven o’clock at night and then March happens and I’m feeling so drained and I was almost thankful when they said we were staying home. I was like, oh, I don’t have to go back. . Helena (07:20): That’s rough. I mean, yeah. So question about the staying late. So it’s kind of funny how we think we’re being productive and then we end up not being productive. What did you find yourself working on things and then when did you realize that okay, maybe what I’m working on isn’t really that important or things that I actually have to get done? Emily (07:41): Yes, that’s a, that’s a good question. So I found myself looking at lesson plans and then trying to find anything I could on T P T or I would make these random centers that I thought was so cool at the time that I thought were so cool. At the time when I really wasn’t doing much, I would either talk to coworkers, we would go look for curriculum together like upstairs we had um, a math resource room and I was like, ooh, we can use this next week and we can use this. It was a bunch of random things or I’d find myself cleaning my room just for it to get destroyed the very next day. And it’s from that experience that I’ve learned some things that I use in my classroom now to help me with that. But man, it was anything and everything that was not productive. I was not grading papers, I was not writing lesson plans. I was looking for resources that I would probably never use or buying resources that I would never use. I look back at my t p t like purchases now and I’m like wow, we never opened that once. Helena (08:37): Yeah, I’ve done that too. I’m guilty too. Um, so how was it teaching in an all boys school? Um, cause now you teach in a regular school, right? So you can kind of the before and after. Emily (08:48): Oh yes. Uh, the all boys school was wild. Teaching is wild in general, but I just want want you to take your rowdiest so all the teachers out there, take your rowdiest five boys and multiply that times 10. No one sits down. We were, we did a lot of just movement all day long. Like kids need movement anyway, but it’s exacerbated when they’re all boys. Like no one sits at the same time. Everyone’s always up asking questions. uh, this is when I learned that whole brain teaching was gonna be my very best friend. Um, everybody in the all boy classroom, you would think that they would be rough and tough because they’re all boys. No, you get ’em all together and they are the most sensitive bunch you could ever see in your entire life. Like if one starts crying, the other starts crying and they, they’re wonderful but they would rush through things and you’d have to be like, no, I need you to do it this way. Emily (09:45): I learned the power of an exemplar for everything that you do and just it, it was a lot. So a lot of movement, a lot of energy. We would wrestle on the carpet all day long. Like my first two weeks of school at the all boys school were always going over routines and procedures, which is good teaching anyway. But when I came to this school, I had it planned out for the first full week. We were gonna rehearse everything. We were going to get these routines down pat within the first three hours of school everything was done. I was like, I don’t know what we’re gonna do for the next two weeks. Like I have all of this planned out and you’re doing great. I was like, you guys sit and listen The first time that I ask like I’m convinced that the girls balance the boys out and the boys balance the girls out. And that’s why everybody looked at me like I was crazy when I said I worked at an all boys school. Helena (10:34): Yeah, I can’t imagine I love the boys in my class but they’re definitely rowdy so I can’t imagine having all boys. There was one day where I had nine boys and one girl and I was like, yep, no thank you. I can do this. So when I saw you worked at an all boys school school I was like, oh my goodness, . Emily (10:50): And I don’t know how I did it for so long. I mean part of the reason is that I looped with my second year class. So that was a big reason why I stayed. But I don’t know, I, I grew to really love it and I do miss those boys. Like on occasion I’ll look back at photos and I’m like, oh man, I really, I really miss you guys. But I love being closer to home now and that um, it’s probably gonna be my, my biggest piece of advice to anybody is if you are commuting really far for school, like if it’s, if you can try to find something closer because that has allowed me to leave at my contract time and like I’ve had so much more energy this past year simply because my day is an hour shorter and my commute is like more than cut in half. Like 75% of my commute is gone. Helena (11:39): Yeah. Wow. Yeah, I was commuting too from Pecos to where I live now and that was an hour and 15 minutes but that was the second year of Covid so we only went back in like March of that year. So thankfully it was only three months but I don’t, those of you that are doing it now, I don’t know how you do it cause I listened to a lot of podcasts but that was pretty much what got me through mm-hmm . Um, so you have a business called Teacher Joy and I was curious as to what started the whole passion for incorporating joy into your school day or into your day? Emily (12:14): Yeah, uh, it’s a good question and it goes back to that job that I hated . So I love the word joy. It is probably my favorite word on the entire planet. Um, and when I was working at that job sitting behind a desk answering phone calls, I was like, there has to be more to life than this. Like there has to be something that gives me fulfillment and gives me joy. And at that point I like things just started happening. So I was at the grocery store one day and someone had that I knew was in line in front of me and they were um, the young life director for our city and I, they had asked me if I wanted to come back to be a young life leader, which for those of you that don’t know, young life is a ministry where they lead high school kids to Christ essentially is what it is. Emily (13:02): So you hang out with young life, you hang out with high school kids and you are simply just hanging out with them and it’s a lot of fun. And I was like okay. And that brought me some joy back into my life. Like it gave me some purpose. And then a short while later the gymnastics gym that I had done gymnastics at had worked at Pryor quit, had called me when I was at work at this job and they’re like, Hey, we love it if you could come back twice a week and coach the kids that you loved, like the, the kids that are five and six are my favorite age to coach gymnastics, , they’re so much fun. So they had asked for me to come back and I was able to set the parameters of that and I just realized that like things were coming back into my life that I had given up that brought me so much joy. Emily (13:43): And I had made an Instagram post and the caption, it was on my personal Instagram, was talking about chasing your joy. So I told everyone that I was gonna chase my joy and that they should chase it back with me and I did the a hundred days of happy and all these things. So when I became a teacher I saw all of these teachers have Teacher Grahams and I was really stuck on a name. I wanted it to be an alliteration. And I was like, oh fantastically first. And I was like, no, that sounds too much like fantastically fourth. And I went back and forth and then it struck me. I was like, oh I could just replace Chase with teach and it can be Teach Your joy, which has now confused some people cause it sounds like teacher joy. So they think my name is Joy. Emily (14:22): I’m like, no, that’s not it . But um, and from there it’s just kind of morphed into this beautiful thing of like, oh I, how do you bring joy into the classroom or on Fridays? My favorite question to ask my students during morning meeting is, what are you saying yay about today? And I’ve always believed that you can turn any day into a holiday if you try hard enough. So just choosing things to be happy about and finding that joy in teaching because I also realized at that that point that I mean teachers have, I feel like have always kind of been this way, but it’s been heightened cuz of social media we’re just being so negative about things and I was like, I could be the one that makes a difference , you know, if I can just make a difference in one teacher’s life, like that would be a success to me. So that’s, yeah, a long-winded answer for that. But Helena (15:10): No I love that. That’s such a great way to come up with a name for your business and a mission too, which is so powerful. So when you go back to that first job you had and you were having a hard time finding joy in your life or it wasn’t a very joyful place to be, what did that look like for you? What did, how did that lack of joy represent in your life? Emily (15:31): Oh, absolutely. Uh, that’s a great question. I, there were lots of mornings that I would wake up and just cry. Like I didn’t wanna go to work. I know that sounds dramatic and it probably was, but I was probably honestly really depressed at that point in my life. I would wake up at the very last minute, so I would have to be to work at eight 30. I would wake up at 8 0 5 and just get ready as quickly as I could and go to work. And I wanted to leave as quickly as I could. Uh, it was very monotonous. Like I would sit at my desk and just not do work. Like I couldn’t physically get myself to do work cuz it just, I didn’t feel like I was making a difference. And that sounds so bad, like , you know, but it was, it was draining and nothing at that point brought me happiness. Emily (16:17): So I would go to work at eight 30 and then I would get home at five 30 and I would either sit on the couch and do nothing like just disassociate from that job or sometimes I would just go straight to sleep because I was so, so tired. So nothing, I didn’t have a hobby, I didn’t have anything that I enjoyed and it was just super monotonous and I really, I was not very happy and very positive. Like it’s funny now people are like, your positivity is contagious. And I was like, well I’ve worked really hard to make it that way because that job just sucked the life out of me. And it’s kind of funny now I look on social media and people that are in the same position, like I relate to their internet memes about like their job. Cause I’m like, oh I’ve been there and I’m glad that I got out. And that always, that always shocks people, right? Because I say I’m a teacher and they ask me like, oh how is it? And I’m like, teaching saved me from a really depressing situation. And people are always shocked when they hear that. So cuz now I, I wake up excited to go to work every day. Like even on my worst day of teaching, it’s never as bad as what I experienced in the corporate world. Helena (17:25): It’s amazing how when we experience, you know, the tough times, it makes us appreciate when we have something good in our lives. And I think that story, you know, sums that up perfectly. So if you were a teacher and you weren’t sure if, what does it look like or what do you often see teachers experience when they don’t have joy in their teaching life and a good indicator that they need to start practicing or chasing the joy in their teaching career? Emily (17:52): First of all, I love the way you just phrased that , that was fantastic. I, to me when I see that and I see it at my school and I’m hoping that people don’t connect the dots here, but when I see it in teachers, it’s when they come to school and the first thing out of their mouth is when do we get to go home? Or it’s just something negative, like I just don’t wanna be here today and I get it right? Like teaching is hard and it’s hard work, but what I want more teachers to just start their day with, it’s just something positive. Even if that is, I got a breakfast burrito today and that really excites me. Or maybe that’s, I got to go get coffee today. And that really excites me. Like let’s start there. Like let’s not start our day on a negative note. Emily (18:36): I’m really big on like starting the day with something intentional. So unintentional word and usually mine is joy . It’s like, I’m gonna choose to find joy today. And, and some days that’s harder than others. Like we all know that like you and I both know that like some days are just really harder than others. So it would be the first thing that I see. And then the other thing that I see is those teachers showing up right at the time that it starts and that’s fine. Like I get there early but like rushing in the door or like they’re not prepared for the day and I attribute that too, like they are just so stressed with everything that’s going on that they can’t even like, like stay on top of everything. So I would say that that’s what it is. So the first place that I would think that everybody needs to start is finding something to be joyful about. Emily (19:22): Just one, one small thing. Um, and then what I also think is that people will look at me and see that I’m positive about things and they’ll say things like, oh that’s like just fake positivity or it’s toxic positivity and I never want that because I never want to paint the picture that teaching is sunshine and rainbows because it’s just not. I know that it’s not and I have tough days just like everybody else, but what keeps me going is remembering where I came from. So like that awful job that I had, you know, reminds me that like, oh it’s, it’s not, it can be worse. Like it could be a whole lot worse . Helena (19:59): So how do you find that separation between that toxic positivity and being positive with intention? Emily (20:06): Yeah, absolutely. I will let myself, so if I have a bad day, I let myself feel that and I’ll even let my coworkers know like when I’m having a bad day and they can see that in me so that way they know like I’m human but then I always follow it up with something, you know, positive that’s happened so that way they can see that like, oh, like she has hard times too. At the beginning of this school year, my team was just going through it like they have some really big personalities in their class that are really hard and make their job a whole lot harder than it needs to be. And one of my teachers said to me, man, your kids are always so well behaved and you’re always so positive. So now I human with her and I go to her and I’m like, hey, like this happened today but I’m choosing to see it from this perspective. Emily (20:51): And then I also, you know, will help teachers out. Like if they come to me with a problem, sometimes I’ll send them like a TikTok of a behavior strategy that I’m like, oh this might work for you. And she goes, oh I’m gonna try that. Like for example, there was one teacher I, I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but she had these Jenga blocks and she was talking about how she had this Jenga tower of all of her students. She goes, this is our whole class. And then she would say, oh when someone talks at a turn I have to take away this block and then I have to take away this block and until eventually the tower falls. And she said Oh but this is our foundation of the kids that are always doing the right thing. And I had sent that to the coworker of mine that was having just a really tough time at the beginning of the school year and she was so thankful that I had sent that to her and was you know, trying to help her out in that capacity. So my reach of finding your joy does not stop on social media Helena (21:38): . Yeah, I think it’s so powerful too how you set time to like honor the process and honor the hard things that happen in life instead of just freezing past it. And I think what I agree with you that toxic positivity is just pretending everything’s positive and there are no problems. Whereas what you do is you are human with the people you interact with and you show them there is hard times but there’s ways to overcome them and I love that. Emily (22:05): Yeah, absolutely. Thank you Helena (22:07): . Yeah, absolutely. So if I were just starting off as a teacher and I’m having a hard time incorporating joy into my day, what would be, you said some of the first things you could do is to find something joyful to start your day. What are some things you’ve done in the past that um, incorporate or you start off your day with joy? Emily (22:29): Um, the first thing that I’ve done is I have worked really hard to do this is waking up early and doing something for me. And a lot of times that’s just having coffee in the quiet. Sometimes that’s working out, sometimes that’s journaling, it just kind of depends. But I wake up every day now at five and from five to six that’s my time. I used to say that was gonna be my business time but I just don’t think I’m the girly that can get up at five and work on my business from five to six. It’s just, it’s just not me. So I do something for me in the morning and then other times that’s me going to go get a cup of coffee in the morning on my way to school or I give myself something to look forward to. So if I know it’s gonna be a tough day, I’m trying to think of a good example of that. Emily (23:15): Like on map testing day, I hate standardized testing, I just hate it with the passion. I will give myself something to look forward to in the middle of the day. So sometimes that’s like lunch from my favorite place. Again, we look for those small things. So maybe it’s something like give yourself little checkpoints to go through. Cause I asked my dad, uh, this is all over the place, but I asked my dad one time how he got through it when he was in the military cause that was really hard. And he goes, well I played a game with myself. I just said, can I make it to the next hour? Can I make it it to the next hour after that? So like finding incremental ways to be positive throughout the day and then bringing joy into the classroom so your students can sense when you don’t have joy in what you’re doing. Emily (23:57): Like they can sense when you’re stressed and they can’t learn in that type of environment. And that’s often when you’re gonna see those behaviors Cause they’re like ah, her guard’s down like I know . And so what I did is I found ways to make teaching more fun for myself and I found ways like if I enjoy doing it, the kids are more than likely going to enjoy learning it. So one of those things is we have a bunch of call and responses that I do in my classroom. It keeps the kids engaged but it also keeps me happy and it keeps us on like a routine and a schedule. So like for example, before we start any lesson I will say, when I say reading, you say lesson reading, lesson reading lesson. And the kids have come to really like know that that’s happening and they really enjoy it. Emily (24:43): Or I celebrate the kids for big and small things and that turned into my students celebrating each other without me having to do anything. So like we have this harmonious environment that I created simply because I needed joy in my day. So I would say find that one thing that brings you joy and do that. If that is um, a brain break that you’ve created, do that. If that’s putting gifts in your Google slides then do that. Like it gives your kids something fun to look forward to. Um, like just, and that comes with knowing your craft, right? Like I didn’t do that my first year teaching cause I didn’t know what I was doing and I sure as heck didn’t do it my second year teaching. But the last two years I’ve really found those things that bring me joy in the classroom and I do those things. Helena (25:32): So what would you do, going back to your example of calling out your students, what are some things you would do to call out your students to make them feel, you know, seen heard and to celebrate their win? Emily (25:42): Oh absolutely. So they love to show off their work. That is a big deal to them. So originally what it was was I was shouting at the kids that got done in the correct amount of time. I’m like, yeah, we’re working really hard, we’re being productive cuz we had a lot to get through during the day. And then it turned into, hey my work, I’m really proud of this, can we do a celebration? And so I would celebrate their work and how hard that they worked. I also had a really tough personality last year and so whenever they just had a phenomenal day, like I was like man so-and-so has been the most incredible listener today. Let’s celebrate them or do the trick that Brian Midler talks about and that is giving a reward because of that one student. Like so-and-so had a great day today so we get five extra minutes of recess. So that’s where it originated from. So celebrating really awesome behavior, celebrating when someone uses like a good social emotional skill. So we made a compromise at recess one day and I was like great job, you know, um, working with a win-win situation here. And they just naturally celebrated each other. Like when I say good job, that triggers in their brain, oh we gotta celebrate them. And they really, they really love that. Tell us. So Helena (26:56): What is, oh sorry, what is your kids celebrating look like each other? Emily (27:01): Yeah, so we have two class chants, and I learned these one I learned from my old school and then the other one I learned at cheer camp. That is my biggest hack. If anybody was ever a cheerleader, the Colin responses that I use are from cheer camp and nobody knows that until now. . Um, so the first one we say this is our most popular and that is G O O D J O B. Good job, good job. Hey. And you say it fast and it takes ’em a while to catch on to that one. But they really love it. And then the second one is, we are so proud of you. We are so proud of you. Hey hey . And they love it. And something that started just in my own classroom has now morphed into they do it in specials class. Like I came back, my kids came back from specials one day and the art teacher goes, how did you get them to celebrate each other like that? And I was like, it’s taking a lot of practice but they do it . So yeah, that’s Helena (27:59): A hard skill to get your kids to celebrate each other so much that they do it without you. That’s phenomenal. I love how you incorporate to your personality and just your experience and being authentically you by bringing in cheerleading into teaching. And that’s a great tip for any teacher out there is to incorporate themselves into their teaching because I think that’s a great way to incorporate joy. Emily (28:22): Mm-hmm . Oh absolutely. Just be authentically you find that one thing that makes you, you and I pretty sure I got that phrase from a podcast one time when you know you’re building a business, they’re like, find that one thing that makes you you like, you know, every morning I will more than likely give you a coffee cheers on Instagram cuz coffee is one of my favorite things and that’s something that I grew, you know, to really love. Now a lot of people do it so , I mean I didn’t start it by any means but that was something that I was like, ooh, I could do that. So just find that one thing and like maybe you are not a teacher like me and you don’t have, I don’t wanna say all that energy but maybe you’re just more of a calm teacher. Find the thing that is you. So maybe I, I mean I don’t know what the best example of this would be, but I saw a teacher, their attention getter was not them saying a lot of things back to them. It was okay if you can hear my voice take a deep breath. And I was like ooh, I love that. Like it calms them down like that’s fantastic. Just find the thing that you can be authentic to and work with that. Helena (29:25): Yeah. And I feel like when you first start out, at least for me, I was not authentically myself. It was so hard because I was so busy and even I heard you say that you switched schools. Mm-hmm , I feel like switching districts and schools and grade levels is a lot like your first first year of teaching all over again except you have a little bit experience but not able to authentically be myself. At least my first couple years of teaching. Was it the same for you? Emily (29:52): Oh absolutely 100%. I think my biggest pro and con of starting my teaching Instagram, my first year teaching and it wasn’t very good and I stand by this phrase sloppy progress is still progress . But my first year teaching I wanted to try everything. Like my, my classroom management style changed it seemed like every week or every other day almost cuz like, ooh these things are so good. But that’s when I quickly learned like, oh I can take the pieces that I like, ditch what I don’t like and it’s okay if it changes and evolves over time. And it’s not until this year my fourth year teaching, but really truly like my first year all over again teaching that I’ve just kind of figured myself out. So I would say it takes a lot of time and it’s not going to happen overnight at all. Yes. Emily (30:41): Because I’m definitely still overwhelmed at this new school. I was telling my boyfriend the other day, I was like, yeah I really do feel like I’m a brand new teacher all over again because no two schools are created equal. And I tell people that all the time. I had posted a real not too long ago about me being happy in the classroom and about how your mindset is a lot of how you can be happy in the classroom and that did rough a couple feathers. They’re like, yeah, well not if I’m being gas lit at school. And I was like, yes, I totally understand. Like no two schools are created equal and I never want to paint that picture that they are so mm-hmm Helena (31:21): . Yeah. How, what are some ways that you can work on your mindset when it comes to creating joy? Emily (31:29): Oh absolutely, yeah I do. I also love gratitude. I can see my bullet journal sitting right here and every morning I also do the same thing with the gratitude. And I will look sometimes on those really tough days, I will look through my lesson plans and I will see what is something that I’m excited to teach today. What’s something exciting that’s going to happen? Maybe it is, um, p t a is bringing me lunch today and that’s gonna get me through the day. Um, maybe it’s, I’m just gonna take five minutes in the morning to just meditate before work on that one word that I’m focusing on for the day. The one or two words. So I’m like, ooh, I’m gonna intentionally find joy today in what I’m doing or maybe I’m gonna plan something after work that I is finding like that I’m gonna find joy in when I get home. Emily (32:18): So that way I’m keeping something positive in the front of my mind, even if going to work is going to be really hard that day. And what I’ve learned is when I do that, even on the toughest days at school, like even when I don’t wanna go, I equate it to going to the gym. Like when you don’t wanna go to the gym, you’re always happy that you went. I’m always happy that I went to school cuz sometimes some kid will say something so I don’t wanna say off the wall and crazy, but maybe they’ll say something so funny or so sweet or maybe they’ll draw me a picture and I’ll be like, oh, I’m so glad I came to work today. I also will keep, um, I keep a stack of cards that I really love that I’ve either been given from parents or students that I’ve drawn it and I saw somebody put this on a ring and it’s called a, a blessings ring. You can call it whatever you want. Maybe your gratitude ring and you can flip through those and you’re like, oh this is my, this is my why. People will say that all the time. Like, go back to your why that really does help. I know that sounds woo wooy and it’s like, no, it’s not gonna help. Like what if Johnny today is jumping off a chairs and it just makes my life so difficult. But like go back to that like why did you become a teacher And it, it really is all about your perspective. Helena (33:25): Yeah, absolutely. So off that note, why would you say you’re a teacher and why do you continue to teach Emily (33:34): ? I love that question. Uh, I don’t wanna give the answer to everyone’s like, oh cause I wanna make a difference. I mean, I do wanna make a difference, but I am there for two reasons. I, I wanna be there for those kids. I could very well possibly be the happiest eight hours of their day because I dunno what they’re going home to every single day. When I was coaching gymnastics, our boss at the time, she said this might be the happiest hour of that kid’s week. And I take that back to teaching. I could be the happiest part of their week. I don’t know what they go home to. And I also became a teacher because I wanna help other teachers. I want them to be able to find that joy in teaching. I want them to see that there is joy to be had. Emily (34:23): I want students to see that there is joy to be had just in life. And I feel like that’s the best avenue that I can do it through is through teaching. Cause like these are young minds, like the future of the world is literally in my classroom . And if I can teach them to love each other really well, then they’re gonna more than likely be better off. Like when they graduate from high school, I know it’s probably not the best answer, but really to make a difference. And people ask me if I have any aspirations to go higher up in teaching, like to be a coach or to be an administrator. And it always shocks. And when I say that I don’t like, I hear teachers that have been in the classroom for 20 or 30 years, I’m like, I dream to be like that. Emily (35:00): Like I want to have all of these class pictures of kids and that could change, but I wanna have like all of these class pictures. I want to be in the classroom for a long time. I love what I get to do. Like it makes me the happiest. I feel like my personality gets to really shine when I’m teaching, but just to create a better future. I don’t want teachers to be unhappy in the future. I want teachers to be happy and I want these kids to be happy. So it’s probably not the best answer, but that’s, that’s what I really like. What Helena (35:31): Keeps no you’re, yeah, your why is really empowering and I love how you’re so passionate about helping other teachers find joy too. So yeah, Emily (35:39): Well it’s, it just makes me sad, right? Like I see all these teachers on social media and it just breaks my heart cause I’m like, we have a teacher shortage, but how on earth are we gonna get more teachers if we’re gonna continue to dwell on the negative things? Like I wanna fix those negative things, but I also want more teachers in the profession and I am, I’m just one person so I can’t do it by myself. But if I can help one teacher see that like there is happiness to be found, maybe not in the first school that they find or maybe in their first year of teaching, but like it can be possible then I, I really want that for them. Helena (36:15): Yeah, absolutely. So, um, if you could go back to your first year teacher self, what would you say to yourself? Emily (36:24): Hmm. The first thing I would say is don’t give up. And it does get better. And that every year is different. And I think to my teacher self, I I would tell her not to be so hard on herself. There were, I could not tell you how many conversations I had with my principal at the time of like, am I gonna get fired? Like, I thought I was just gonna get fired. And I think that’s cause I was on a probationary certificate cause that’s what they give you when, no, it was not a probationary certificate. It was an intern certificate and was only good for one year. And I was like, man, this class is so rough. Like what if I can’t be a teacher after this? Like everything that I’ve worked for is gonna be gone. But I would say don’t be so hard on yourself and just be true to you. Like if I, if I had known what I know now and be like, hey, like you’re gonna be successful. It’s going to be okay. But be true to you. I feel like my first year teaching would’ve gone a lot smoother had I have, you know, known that. Um, and that it’s, it’s okay. Like it’s, you’re gonna make mistakes and that’s okay, we’re gonna work through them but just I would say be true to you. Be authentic. Helena (37:35): You’re gonna make like first year teacher me cry cause I’m like I need you to hear that too. So thank you for saying that. Um, so thank you so much for this because your joy is definitely contagious and I know I learned a lot about how I can incorporate joy. We’re recording this during break, but going back into the new school year, um, if I were wanting to follow up and learn more about you, um, where could I find, find you? Emily (38:04): Yes, absolutely. You can find me on Instagram at Teach Your Joy. So that’s T e A c h Y O U R Joy and that’s my handle everywhere. So it’s also my email too. So Teacher joy@gmail.com if you wanna know more about me, but this has been so much fun. I love this. You’re gonna make me wanna start a podcast now, . Helena (38:27): You should. You definitely should. It’s a lot of fun and the listeners are amazing cuz you get, you know, amazing people that message you so grateful for them. Emily (38:35): Love it. And then I can I ask you a question? Helena (38:38): Absolutely. Emily (38:39): What are you saying yay about today? Helena (38:43): I am saying yay about being able to create a business or work in my business where I’m helping first year teachers thrive and learn all the hard things that it took me years to learn, um, faster and hopefully not have to make those mistakes and to mindfully show up instead of showing up at the end of the day feeling disassociated and burnt out and feeling like they’re not a good teacher. And that’s what I’m saying too, is every day that I get to show up and help other teachers is a celebration. So. Emily (39:16): Hmm. I love that. Helena (39:17): , what, what are you celebrating today? Emily (39:20): Oh, what am I celebrating today? . I am celebrating my first successful podcast interview. This was, I hope my nerves did not show through on this cuz I was definitely pretty nervous. Um, and I’m also celebrating, this is kind of a silly one, but I recently got an espresso and I bought an espresso pod for the first time and like the coffee is just like 10 outta 10 I recommend. So I’m also first podcast and delicious coffee Helena (39:48): . Sounds like a great one. Well thank you so much Emily for joining us and I will make sure to grab all those links and I will put ’em in the show notes if you’re listening. So make sure to go fall, follow Emily at Teacher Joy on Instagram and all those socials and I will talk to you soon. Teacher besties. Bye. Helena (40:10): Thank you so much for joining me on today’s episode. I hope that you were able to take away some value that will help you thrive inside and outta the classroom. It would mean the world to me. If you could take five seconds right now and leave a review on this podcast. And if you found this podcast especially helpful, make sure to take a screenshot of this episode right now and tag me on your social. Let me know you’re listening. As always, remember that we are stronger together with all the love in the world. Helena aka the present teacher. See you next time. Teacher bestie.[/su_spoiler]

    Discover What Brings You Joy

    In order to figure out how to find joy as a first year teacher, you need to discover what brings you joy. Oftentimes when we get too involved in teaching it can feel like we lose ourselves a bit. We may forget things like our hobbies, likes and even dislikes.

    That’s why finding joy is a lot like a journey and not a destination. So start figuring out your likes and dislikes. Make a list of all the things that bring you joy. 

    Is something not as fun as it used to be? That’s okay! Our interests change with the seasons we experience in life. So pick something new and try that too! Need ideas on things to try? Download this 40 Self-care ideas in 5 minutes or less to get started!

    Download the Free Ultimate Self-Care Guide For Teachers

    Download 40 Self-Care Ideas For Teachers that you can do in 5 minutes or less now by hitting “Download.”

      You can unsubscribe at any time.

      This includes:

      • 40 Self-Care Ideas for Teachers that take 5 minutes or less
      • Habit checker to check off how many days in a row you complete a task.
      • A reflective page for notes.

      Schedule Joy into Your Day!

      After you have figured out what brings you joy, Emily shares that the next step is to schedule something joyful to look forward to throughout your day. This can be something as simple as getting a cup of coffee from your favorite coffee shop (hello Starbucks!) or reading your favorite book after work. 

      Either way scheduling something to look forward to can really help you get through some of those harder days in teaching. So in order to find joy as a first year teacher this week, try scheduling something on your next work day that you can look forward to!

      Implement Positive Classroom Management Techniques. 

      Another way to find joy as a first year teacher is to implement positive classroom management techniques. Effective classroom management techniques can help you maintain a positive learning environment for your students, leading to increased engagement, higher learner motivation, and a greater enjoyment of the teaching process. 

      As Emily says, “when you make teaching joyful for you, you are making it that much more fun for your students!”

      This can be something like celebrating each other’s wins or using cheer class calls like the Creator of Teach Your Joy does. Either way, incorporating your day with your authentic personality in a positive way is a great way to find joy as a first year teacher.

      Emily Person from Teach Your Joy shares how to find joy as a first year teacher

      Start Your Day With Intentional Joy!

      Have you ever had a day where you just woke up on the wrong side of the bed? And then somehow your students use their magic powers to sense your vibe and seem to make it 10 times worse?

      The same goes for a positive morning. The next way to find joy as a first year teacher is to start your morning off with some intentional joy. Whether it’s sitting in silence drinking your coffee like Emily does, or going for a walk. Give yourself permission in the morning to take at least 5 minutes for yourself to do something that starts your day off in a positive way!

      Don’t Forget to “Human” Too!

      The last thing you want to do is to create “Toxic Positivity.” That’s why it’s so important to feel your emotions as they come instead of pretending everything is okay. So make sure when you have a bad day to give yourself permission to feel those emotions. It’s okay to be human and give yourself that permission to be. 

      Having and feeling your emotions throughout your teaching day doesn’t make you negative. What you decide to do next does. So take some time to feel your emotions and validate them then choose what positive step forward you can take next!

      To Summarize

      Overall, there are several ways to find joy as a first year teacher. Whether it’s discovering what brings you joy again, scheduling it into your day, incorporating positive classroom management strategies, or starting off your day right, we call all focus on making each day a little brighter. Just don’t forget to take some time to validate your emotions and feelings too!

      To end this blog post off I want to leave you with this thought that Emily asked at the end of the podcast:

      What are you saying yay to today?

      With all the love in the world,

      Helena

      AKA