Planning for Joy | Hooray For Monday

May 13. 2024

By Jenna Fournel, Director of Teaching and Learning

Listen to this week’s Hooray For Monday podcast to listen to Jenna’s conversation with Kim Kelley, a ‘23-24 Teaching with Improvisation Fellow, who shares the moments that bring her joy in teaching — and how she builds joy into her lesson plans.

Who doesn’t wish for a more joy-filled day? So often in schools, joy feels like something we depend on serendipity to find, or something that requires a big school-wide festival to create. At Inspired Teaching, however, we believe Joy — as one of our 5 Core Elements — is an integral component of teaching and learning.

A recent conversation with an Inspired Teacher served as a wonderful reminder that it is both possible and delightfully rewarding to infuse joy into the everyday.

Kimberly Kelley, a teacher at Goodwill Excel Center in Washington, DC, shared that, as a 2023-2024 Teaching with Improvisation Fellow, she has made a commitment to herself to create a “joy objective” for her lessons every single day.

“Whether it’s some type of hands-on learning, struggling through and finding the joy that way, or a silly time out type of thing and finding the joy that way, I’ve always been a joyful teacher. But the purposefully planning and putting it in my lesson plans made it up-front. And I think the students could feel that purposeful planning,” she explained.

At Goodwill Excel Center, an “adult charter high school that awards industry-recognized certifications and high school diplomas, not GEDs, to adult learners in the District,” this focus on joy is particularly important for Ms. Kelley’s non-traditional students, who may have had negative experiences in schooling when they were younger.

One concrete way she met her joy objective this year was to put students in charge of teaching math lessons. She’d work with them in advance to ensure they understood the concepts they’d teach their peers and they would then follow the structure she’s created for her lessons to lead the class.

Her efforts to incorporate joy could also get quite complex. For one class period, the whole school became a math Escape Room.

“They have to find these hints and solve the problems and it was just super fun to watch adults giggling and running through the school acting like superheroes. I enjoyed seeing that playfulness side that sometimes I think we forget we need as adults. We always focus on the smaller kids for stuff like that. But I think even teachers and adult students need the ‘Play Big’ idea in their life.”

You can learn more about Ms. Kelley’s joyful teaching in our interview in today’s podcast. And, if you want to meet incredible teachers like her and be inspired to shift your practice in new ways, consider applying for the 2024-2025 cohort of Teaching with Improvisation Fellows!

For additional insights, resources, and information on Inspired Teaching teacher and youth programming, subscribe to the Hooray For Monday newsletter!

Hooray For Monday is an award-winning weekly publication by Center for Inspired Teaching, an independent nonprofit organization that invests in and supports teachers. Inspired Teaching provides transformative, improvisation-based professional learning for teachers that is 100% engaging – intellectually, emotionally, and physically. Our mission is to create radical change in the school experience – away from compliance and toward authentic engagement.

Listen to This Week’s Episode of Hooray For Monday


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