Jumping for Joy

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It was the end of another school year, and the teachers were feeling a little beat up, including me. Endless meetings, mountains of paperwork, pressing deadlines, budget disasters -- it was all making me weary.

And that last week of school, leading my line of third graders, one small boy kept jumping all over the place. I was too exhausted to deal with it. "Billy," I finally said in a tired voice, "Why are you jumping around like that?"

Billy stopped jumping long enough to consider the question. "I dunno," he said happily, in that not-too-concerned way eight-year-olds have, "I think I'm just...full of joy!"

Despite my battle fatigue, I had to stop and laugh.

And it made me realize how much I like being a teacher.


I love that kids are full of joy. They don't care the world is overrun with paperwork and meetings and budgets. For 15 minutes of recess, life is great.

Third graders live in the moment. Unlike adults, kids are not wasting today worrying about tomorrow or ruminating about yesterday. They are so busy enjoying this very second to be burdened by shoulda-coulda-woulda and what-if. Kids can simply walk in line with their friends and be so happy they are literally jumping with joy.

Long ago in my career, I realized the kids were teaching me as much as I was teaching them. And at the end of every school year, I try to remember the lessons the year has brought me.

And this year, it's simply this.

We can all choose to be full of joy.

We all have responsibilities, dull routines, bills to pay. But even with that nose-to-the-grindstone uphill climb that defines our ordinary hours and everyday lives, I'm going to try to be more like Billy.

I'm going to try to be full of joy, too. Life can be a struggle, or it can be full of joy.

Billy clearly makes the right choice.

Thanks, Billy.

With a Perspective, I'm Richard Swerdlow.