Happy students learn better. Happy employees perform better. It is the responsibility of the education system to ensure that students grow in a positive atmosphere so that they become happier adults. What makes students happy?
I was a miserable student and hated my school life, mostly. Now, the childhood years are formative years, and there is a lot that the teachers and the education community can do to make students happy inside schools.
In order to create a happy environments in school, we need to stop making the schools a dreadful place to come to. We should consider teaching happiness and how to be happy inside school classrooms. There is a combination to factors that can make students happy at school and in this article, we would look at as many as we can.
This article is from the teacher and administrator perspective- people who should be responsible for students’ happiness. I will write another one from the students’ perspective too.
So, how can we create happier schools? The term school here also included colleges and other academic institutions where students come and study.
Here are 10 ways to make kids happier at schools.
1. Create creative classrooms
Now, we need to be honest to start with. The physical space matters. For most of my school life, I went to a pretty boring school. Now, I don’t blame my parents now, since they did the best they could. It’s just that they didn’t know enough about the kind of schools that should be good for their children.
The classrooms should be colorful and inviting so that kids feel like coming to school. They could have creative quotes on them which makes the students think creatively and learn something. The more inviting the physical spaces are, the more interested and happy students would be to come to the school every day.
2. Hire compassionate and caring teachers
Now, of course the teacher must know their subjects well. However, that’s not the only job of the teacher. A caring and loving teacher may become one of the most important people in a student’s life. Therefore, schools, especially where students spend majority of their formative years, should have compassionate and caring teachers. The students shouldn’t be scared of them.
Those teachers, in my mind, were monsters. I hated them then, and I hate them now, although they must be dead by now.
We need caring, compassionate, soft-spoken and kind teachers if schools are to be happier places.
3. Stop comparing students with each other
Comparison is one of the biggest diseases facing human life which takes away from our happiness. The seeds of the disease are sown in student life when students are compared with each other in classrooms.
If we are to make human life happier in future, we need to start with students.
Stop comparing students to other students.
Okay, now you may ask- so what do we do, if we don’t compare students with each other on their performance?
Let us say that you are a mathematics teacher.
It is natural that some students in every class will perform better than the rest of the class. Mathematics is a subject a lot of students struggle with. Now, students who don’t perform as well need help, not capital punishment and humiliation. I say this because I was never good at mathematics and at one point, one of our teachers in school made the students take off their shirts and roam around in the school, just to humiliate us.
Just don’t compare the best students in any subject with the rest of the student. It is likely that those who don’t perform well in mathematics would perform well in other subjects like English, science or commerce or whatever it is they like.
The class teacher who is responsible for an entire class is the most important of any of the teachers since she is responsible for the overall performance of the students. She must be an experienced teacher who is known for her kindness and compassion, beyond her competence.
I repeat. Stop comparing students with each other.
Celebrate their strengths and help them understand the basics of the subjects they need to pass. That’s all they would really need.
4. Look for sparks beyond academics and call them out
Now, this is a story I have mentioned in my book happiness in your skin and I call this theory the missed moment of brilliance.
I was in standard 8th and was a no-body in school. Nobody really if I came to school or not. The teachers never appreciated me. I was somewhere in the top 10 in academics which meant nothing and I never participated in any extracurricular activities because I just didn’t have the confidence.
Now, there was an on-the-spot essay writing competition one day. The subject was ‘where is the will, there is the way.’ I wrote whatever I wrote and forgot about it. After the competition, the top students in my class discussed what they wrote, and I was quiet as usual.
A few days later, it turned out that I won the competition. Between 8th to 12th standard students, I had stood first. I couldn’t believe it.
However, nobody at my school or home bothered to care about it. The win was forgotten just like my identity. Now, years later after struggling through most of my life, I decided to turn back to writing in my mid 30’s. Had that moment of brilliance not ignored, somebody should have spurred me to writing, and I could have saved myself years of pain.
5. Teach mindfulness
I don’t really know how to teach mindfulness but I am sure it can be useful for student life. It would be great if the student days started by 5 minutes of silence and focus on the breath in the morning assembly.
The essence of mindfulness is in the ability to give 100% to the current moment. A focus on breathing for 5 minutes in collective silence would be a beautiful way to teach students the importance of mindfulness. They themselves would realize how useful the practice is, and would take it to other areas of their lives.
6. Aim for all round development
Schools should aim at all around development of the students and not just academic development. Communication is one of the most important skills all of us need at all moments of our lives. Therefore, all students should be encouraged to participate in speeches, debates and speaking competitions.
Not just that, there should be a balance between indoor teaching and outdoor activities and games so that they learn the importance of physical movement to their health.
The objective should not only be on academics but all round development of the personality.
7. Discourage rote learning
This is 2021 and the world has changed forever because of the internet. The students would all have internet in their homes and would be able to find anything they want. It is high time that no marks or credentials are rewarded for rote learning and producing content word by word.
We learn things by thinking through them, and doing them. That should be the focus of learning. They should be able to write the meaning of history, for example in their own words. If they can do that with history, they can do so with other subjects as well.
8. Encourage creativity and blue sky thinking
Everybody is creative in their own ways and creativity is not only limited to the arts. Students should be rewarded for coming up with creative ideas to solve academic or extracurricular and even real problems that they may face.
Creativity is one of the most useful skills in school or adult life and it would help if they learn to be creative as early as they can in life.
9. Help them make friends
Learning how to make friends is a skill that many of us do not learn through our entire lives. I had a lonely childhood since I was shy and didn’t have many friends. I was a lonely soul, and was made fun of and bullied by heftier and more confident classmates. There were nice students too, but they didn’t bother much with my loneliness. They didn’t know much ether.
I do think that school should play a role in helping students make friends within their classes. That would make them happier and make schools happier places where kids come to learn together with their friends.
10. Talk to them
Each student is unique, learns and grows differently. It is important that the communication lines between students, teachers and parents are always overflowing so there is absolutely no paucity in communication. The students should have ample avenues to express how they feel, or else their emotions would get stifled inside of them.
Thank you for reading.
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I appreciate the time you spent in reading the blog and wish you happiness.