A guide to promoting happiness in the classroom


In a world where we place so much emphasis on results we tend to forget that the classroom environment is not just for learning it’s also a place where happiness and a sense of belonging should be promoted. And so, if you’re a teacher/facilitator/lecturer preparing to return to your students, we’ve got a few teaching strategies that might help you transform their response to learning and promote their sense of well-being. You never know, it might just encourage them to pay more attention in class.

Get to know your students: It’s not enough to know their names; teachers should also understand their kids’ personalities and family situations and be sensitive to any additional emotional and physical needs they may have.

Inject a bit of humour into their day by telling a joke: Make sure it’s appropriate for their age group. You could also provide some light relief by playing music and having a bit of a singsong. Alternatively you could set aside some time to let them lead the way regarding what subjects they want to learn on a specific day. This not only promotes independence and encourages students to have their say and make decisions; I’ve also found that learners become more engaged and retain more knowledge if lessons become relevant to them.

Allow students a couple of brain breaks during the day: As someone who lectured for many years in schools, colleges, universities and correctional facilities, I found injecting a few humorous brain teasers into my classes kept students energised and motivated. Mind you it didn’t prevent two members of An Garda Síochána once falling asleep during a PowerPoint when I used to train them regarding animal welfare and its link with domestic violence. I’m sure they were tired…or bored!

  It’s up to the teacher/lecturer to promote and ensure they establish a positive environment, meaning students should know there are certain behaviours that will not be tolerated. Both teacher and students should be respectful, fair, and at all times act in an appropriate manner towards each other.

Reinforce positive behaviour by way of giving little prizes or certificates to students: They’ll quickly make the connection between their performance and their rewards and how it makes them feel good about themselves.

  It’s important that teachers also look after themselves. Have a support system where they can laugh (or rant) with colleagues. Remember, teachers not only have a duty to care for their students, they must also place emphasis on their own physical and mental health. This means not trying to be perfect, and instead, trying to be human and accept that sometimes they may need to do things differently. It’s no secret that if we cannot manage our own positive well-being we cannot be expected to help others manage theirs.