Written by: Jennifer Appel
Are you going to write a book?
I remember talking to another educator at a conference Hans and I were presenting at and getting asked that exact question. Hans was currently writing his first book, Award Winning Culture, so the question seemed logical.
I remember saying, “ME, no way, I am not a writer.”
Now, reflecting back on that conversation, I have published my 3rd book and have more in the works, WHAT? Maybe I am a writer?
So, why did I write Inspiring JOY? What motivated me to see myself as a writer and create this book for others to learn and enjoy.
I think it all goes back to my purpose and my WHY. I became an educator to make a special influence in students' lives. Not to simply teach a subject area, but to bring a profound sense of JOY to my learners. And if I’m being honest with myself--teaching is about modeling our own joy for learning.
I LOVE to learn and read...EVERYDAY! I long for my students to feel the intensity of that daily experience.
When I first started teaching 22 years ago, I had more freedom to create engaging lessons that went beyond my content area. Teachers were encouraged to build in life lessons, relevance and purpose. But then something changed.
A tsunami of standardized assessment reduced learning to an overly scripted series of questions and answers rather than an artfully curated tapestry of curiosity, creativity and connection.
Education really started focusing on assessment, but not in a positive way, in a way that was more of a GOTCHA for kids and teachers.
With this new shift, I started to think I needed to veer away from my WHY. I began to feel as uninspired as the middle schoolers I was teaching. The peer pressure to conform and teach the canned--dare I say ROBOTIC curriculum became overwhelming!
I started to feel like social emotional learning and character education were just more things on my full plate and didn’t have time for them. Afterall, good teaching is about passing “the test,” learning the academic content and getting them ready for the next grade level. RIGHT? HECK NO IT’S NOT!
I’ve spent the last 7 years actively pushing against the system. I’m back to doing what I knew in my heart was right for my students while still focusing on the whole child within my curriculum. And you know what, when we focus on the important stuff our learners earn even higher marks on the almighty test. The test of LIFE.
Teachers who chase joy cast a net filled with purpose, fulfillment, deep satisfaction, and synergy toward remarkable human potential.
I started to get asked: how are you doing that? You teach reading and writing, and are still finding a way to embed whole learner content-- how is that possible? I began to blog, post and collect my thoughts and ideas to share with other enlightened educators. I enjoy speaking, coaching, and supporting peers who have the same vision of a return to joyful learning. I want to inspire other teachers who are buried in systemic pressure to be able to go live out their WHY and teach the JOY from their hearts. The result of that work is LESSICONS.
**LESSICONS is a template for achieving pedagogical JOY.
Teaching for me is more than a job, it is a passionate light that’s born from deep in my soul. This book is my gift to all the educational dreamcatchers out there. And I want you to know that you are supported and loved for what you are doing to help students connect to their SUPERPOWER, WHY, VALUES, WORK, HUMAN CONNECTIONS, and GRATITUDE.
It’s our job to help learners find and develop their own JOY. You're doing work that matters. YOU MATTER.
Isn’t it time to have a lesson planning framework to coalesce LEARNING with JOY?
About the Author
Jennifer Appel is an educator, coach, speaker, and writer. She’s the Co-host of the Award Winning Culture podcast and the Co-Creator of Award Winning Culture. In addition to being the author of: Inspiring JOY: A Revolutionary Lesson Planning Framework for Teaching the Whole Learner she’s the author of a line of picture books focusing on social emotional learning and character education which includes, Award Winning Dog and I’m WHO. Furthermore, Jennifer has been a contributor on two books: Teacher’s Deserve It and Expedition Science.
Award Winning Culture was created by Hans and Jennifer Appel with the sole purpose of creating an educational mindset of Positive INTENTIONALITY and ACTION; with a daily mantra to make our sphere of influence stronger through Character, Excellence, and Community. Part of AWC's mission is to highlight outstanding educators, companies, and resources that support an Award Winning Culture. Both Jennifer and Hans work at Enterprise Middle School aka Wildcat Nation. Wildcat Nation received the 2018 ASCD Whole Child Award in Washington, for its award winning culture and the 2018 Global "Class Act Award" for Kindness.