The One Thing We Forget to Plan For

Today I added a column to my electronic lesson planner, a column I should have added at the beginning of the year but realized that now is better than never.  It is not more work for me, nor is it something I was told to do, I added it because I had to, the urgency haunted me in my sleep; a column labeled “Fun.”  While right now the column is mostly empty as I plan my days ahead it serves as an important reminder; that fun is not a four-letter word in education and that learning should be filled with joy.

We plan for the standards.  We plan for our students needs.  We plan for progress.  We plan for assessment.  But when do we take the time to plan for fun, to make schools places of joy where students are encouraged to have fun?  We seem to be too busy getting through all the things we need to get through that fun is the furthest  things from our minds.  Yet, fun is exactly what we need to have more of in schools.

Learning should be fun.  Curiosity should have a place in our classrooms.  Laughter should happen on a regular basis.  Smiling should be a classroom rule.  Fun should be one of the many pillars that supports all of the learning that we do.  It should be embraced, discussed, worked on and celebrated.  Schools should be filled with fun.

So while I find it sad that I have to plan for it, I recognize that I often get too caught up in all that we have to do that it simply slips my mind.  That I worry more about whether students get something than whether they like coming to school.  Than whether they laughed today.  Yet, that is exactly what I should be worrying about.  We lose kids when they disconnect from school.  Making school fun again should be on all of our priority lists.  So next  time you plan; ask yourself; is this fun?  Is this something the students will enjoy working with or will it be yet another thing they just have to do?  Push your thinking, ask the students, plan for moments of joy.  We have lost too many students because school had no joy, but it is not too late to change the way we teach.  The first step is to change the way we plan.

To see actual ideas for how to create more joy-filled moments, go here

I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA but originally from Denmark,  who has taught 4th, 5th, and 7th grade.  Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day.  First book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classrooms Back to Our Students” can be purchased now.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press.  Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

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7 thoughts on “The One Thing We Forget to Plan For

  1. Pernille,

    Thank you. It is increasingly important that we “plan for moments of joy.” Many of our students are struggling with so many burdens that weigh them down. School, for many, is just another time to get through. But as you remind us, if we plan for fun, many students will learn to love school, and find it the place of joy and refuge from their burdens.

    I always appreciate your reflections!

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  3. Definitely! Joy, fun and laughter should be part of everyday. School should be a place children want to be, rather than have to be. There are many small ingredients that contribute to a positive, supportive classroom environment. A little laughter and lightness never hurt anyone and helps to make the day more enjoyable and relieves those moments of tension that can occur.

  4. Love the idea of making a column for this. Every day, with every lesson, we could be asking ourselves: what about doing this is fun? What will get students excited to see what happens next? What will make them smile? What will be meaningful for them? What will they be proud to say they accomplished?

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