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Joy As A Necessary Choice In Schooling

For most of my adult life, Mary Oliver has been a poet I read, reread, and read again. Her words are some of the few quotes I share on my limited social media interactions because so often, in such brevity, her words provide peace.

I have made some significant changes in the last few months, ones I'm not ready to write about, but something that is new to me is the idea of joy mapping. It's something I don't know a lot about - yet- but it's appealing. A school I've partnered with for many years has used it to support staff and students. The idea is relatively simple- you make a map of your life and the things that bring you joy. It reminds me of the writing strategy I learned from Ralph Fletcher about mapping important places to remember stories.

This example (taken from a Google search) shows how you can create a joy map as a way to remind yourself of the places and experiences that bring you joy. That help you heal. This can include all aspects of life- mental, spiritual, emotional, relationships, and even patterns.

I shared this with a middle school student I was reading with yesterday. They were struck by how little we talk about joy in school. Which of course, got me thinking. What if, instead of interviewing my readers, I joy-mapped with my writers? What if, instead of counting down days and weeks, I counted up joy?

It's a new school year and newness is always a gift. I'm hoping to show my students how together we can choose more joy.

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