I was in my classroom and had just gotten my morning cup of coffee. I put it in my favorite mug, a llama mug that one of my favorite students had given me for Christmas, just a few months before. Every time I used this mug, I thought of this kid. He was just special to me. He is mature, has a great sense of humor, and is a really great kid. So since he gave me the mug, it was special to me. There I was, stirring all the good stuff into my coffee when I dropped the mug and it broke into a bunch of pieces. I literally almost cried. It sort of ruined my day. . . until it didn’t.
On my next planning time, I went online (ahhhh the power of the internet never fails to amaze me, since I grew up without it and even lived my first 25 years or so without it), and I found the exact mug on Ebay. It was like 25 plus shipping, but I didn’t care. That mug meant more to me than just a container for my coffee. Every time I used it, I felt warm and loved. So I fixed the problem, and I felt better.
Happiness is a choice for me, always. If I’m not happy and excited about the way things are going or the situation I’m in, I change the situation or I find a solution to the problem so I am happy. I’ve always been like this. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have bad days. When I do have a bad day, or something bad happens to me, I try to find a workaround, or I change my mindset. Much to my own children’s dismay, I try to do the same for them. (ahem)
We’ve all been there. You get out on the wrong side of the bed. You trip on the clothes you left on the floor the night before and fall face first, scraping your elbow and bruising your knee . . . and your ego. You spill your coffee all over the floor. You walk into the school building, and your admin says “Hey, I need you to cover Mrs. Smith’s class until her sub gets here”. I mean stuff happens. You can’t prevent things from going wrong, but you can change how you think about these things.
Welcome to the ultimate mindset makeover for elementary music teachers! Today, I’m unleashing 3 powerful tips to help you dance to a happier beat while you’re teaching music. I’ve even got a bonus tip for you . . . the delightful concept of “joy snacking”! Read on for more goodness.
- When something bad happens, be like Elsa and let it go:
In the wonderful world of elementary music, unexpected hiccups are bound to happen. But fret not, for I have a magical mantra to guide you through the toughest of times: “Let it go, let it go!” Channel your inner Elsa and release those negative vibes. Instead of dwelling on setbacks, direct your energy toward finding solutions and embracing the joy that comes from teaching music to little ones. Focus on the joyful faces and giggles that inevitably happen when you’re being silly with your kiddos or singing a silly song. My students always loved the song Tarzan. This is one my students requested over and over.
- Embrace a positive mindset when you encounter challenging situations:
Picture this: you’re standing at the door of your music classroom, and you see THAT kid or THAT class lined up outside the room. Every single week, there has been an issue. The way I see it, you can dread those 30 minutes every week, or you can try something new.
a) Give them another chance, because every day brings new possibilities for growth and transformation. Don’t assume they’ll be the same as last time. Try to approach every class with a positive attitude. You can even use some an affirmation like, I choose to be the most positive person in the room. This is not hippie dippie b.s. It truly works. Your thoughts are in control. Negative thoughts = negative actions = negative results. The same happens in reverse. When you focus your thoughts on the positive, you’ll also get positive outcomes. Not sure about this . . . try it and see.
b) Change things up and let your students take you on an adventurous ride! Try different teaching strategies, explore unique instruments, get out your fun manipulatives, and let your students take the wheel and make the choices. Giving them control can have some amazing results. Allowing your students to embrace choice empowers them to create their own musical experience that will excite and captivates even the most reluctant learners.
- Does it feel like your admin doesn’t get you? Do you feel unappreciated or misunderstood? Try putting yourself in your admin’s shoes.
My most recent principal was our AP for a few years. She and I didn’t always see eye to eye, and I just felt like she didn’t get me. Needless to say, I was a little worried when she became the principal. But I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt and see what happened, because that’s how I roll. And I was pleasantly surprised. She really “had my back” in many situations, and I watched her become better at her job as the leader of our school. As a classroom teacher herself for many years, she knew the challenges other teacher faced. She tried her best to keep staff meeting short, and she was a supportive leader. When I had an issue or challenge, she could be a good problem solver. I didn’t agree with everything she did, but I did find her to be willing to learn and grow.
When your admin does something you don’t like or doesn’t treat you the way you want to be treated, try to take a step back, put on your empathy hat, and give them the benefit of the doubt. Remember, they have a lot on their plate, and their decisions may be driven by factors beyond your knowledge. Instead of assuming the worst, foster open lines of communication, share your ideas, and work together to create a harmonious collaboration. By building a positive relationship, you can turn your admin into a true ally in your pursuit of happiness in your job.
BONUS Tip: Joy Snacking – Feed Your Soul with Music’s Sweet Treats!
Joy Snacking is a new concept that you might want to try out. Just as you savor a delicious treat to boost your energy, it’s equally important to indulge in little bursts of joy throughout your day. Take short breaks and engage in something that brings you pure delight. Sing your favorite song, play an instrument just for fun, dance like nobody’s watching, do some stretching . . . whatever it is that makes you smile. These joy snacks will recharge your spirit and infuse your teaching with infectious enthusiasm.
Hopefully you’ve discovered a few secrets to help you transform your mindset and find some happy in your day. Embrace the magical power of letting go, choose positivity and happiness, even with THAT class or THAT student, and extend empathy to your admin to create a harmonious atmosphere. And don’t forget the bonus tip—joy snacking! Treat yourself to some mini-delights that nourish your soul and keep your passion burning bright.
Want more tips and trainings to help you find happy in your music classroom? Check out The Happy Music Teacher Academy!