Finding Joy

Are you finding joy in your work? Does it matter? I answer with a resounding ‘YES!’

A few years back, I was chatting with my nephew who was teaching middle school students. He was at a crossroad wondering whether to keep launching his career in education or pivot towards a career in law. There were many things to consider. Both his parents and grandfather pursued the law as a career. He considered the financial sustainability of a career in education in the U.S.A. There was the matter of time to think about as well. How much time did he want to spend in graduate school and working his way through a profession? There was definitely a lot to consider in both these choices.

As the conversation went on, I asked him one question: What brings you joy about working with middle school kids? His eyes lit up as he talked about how each child’s personality and story was different which brought something dynamic to the classroom each day. He talked about his love for working with kids in the outdoors and nature, helping each child connect with the natural world. 

Finding joy in the work you do and the career you pursue can be a luxury. After all, most of us need to take what we can get to earn a living and provide for our families. I agree with this wholeheartedly. 

When working in schools and with children, there is an additional demand. You must find joy in children to do this work well. Kids are smart. They know when the adults around them enjoy them and like them and when they don’t. As Rita Pierson told us in her TedTalk, Every Kid Needs a Champion, we know kids don’t learn from adults when they don’t feel seen, heard, or liked. When we feel joy in our work, we are more invested in building the relationships that create effective teaching and leading in schools.

It may feel harder to find in this time of remote and hybrid learning and yet it is imperative to take a moment, pause, and rekindle that joy that may have brought you here to this career in the first place. Find it. Seek it. Look for it in the small moments. It’s there. 

It could be the smiles and giggles of young children, the curious look in their eyes when they are about to discover something new, the joy when they read a new and challenging word or the surprising and smart questions they ask. 

So, I ask you. Where do you find joy in your work?