10 Things Happy Teachers Do Differently

I know that you probably feel like there are times that HAPPY and TEACHER don’t belong in the same sentence… I feel ya.  As I always say, our jobs are hard….. but on the flipside, our jobs are so rewarding and important.

In my own experience and in observing teachers I work with and teachers I have connected with through the magic of social media, I have noticed some trends among those that I would consider ‘happy.’

Happy teachers make the choice to be positive.

Don’t be fooled – those happy people that you see don’t just wake up exuding rainbows and unicorns.  It is likely that they wake up every day, and make the choice to have a positive mindset about their day ahead.

Keep a notebook on your nightstand, and before you even get out of bed, write down the following:

  • one thing you are grateful for
  • one thing you are looking forward to relating to your job
  • one thing you are looking forward to relating to your personal life.

It may seem silly, but getting your MIND working in a positive direction before your feet even hit the floor is an awesome way to set the stage for a great day.

Happy teachers surround themselves with positive people.

I’m going to begin this tip by saying that WE ALL NEED TO VENT.  There is a difference between VENTING and being a consistent whiner and complainer.  

Consistent whiners and complainers come into the teacher’s lounge to eat their lunch with a look of pure annoyance on their faces, and it is so rare that they have anything great to say about their morning.

They will look at the clock and make snarky remarks about having to go pick up their students, too.

C’mon… you know who I’m talking about 🙂

Sure, we could whine and complain all day long if we wanted to… but WHY?!  What is that REALLY going to accomplish for us?

You need to be surrounding yourself with other people who WANT to have a good day.  Those constant whiners and complainers are like kryptonite to someone who is trying to be a happy teacher.

Choose to sit somewhere else when you eat your lunch.

Choose to work instead of chat with the complainers during your plan time.

Choose to find another happy teacher to decompress with at the end of the day instead of standing in the hallway trying to one-up everyone else on who had the worst day.

Happy teachers ask for help.

Happy teachers know their strengths, and they know the areas that they want to improve upon.

Happy teachers also don’t try to fake like they can do it all because faking it is HARD WORK.  If you need some help, find a trusted colleague and ASK FOR IT!

A lot of people think that asking for help is a sign of weakness… but really, asking for help is showing strength.

If you’re strong, you will be confident enough in the things you DO know to accept that you want to do better with the things you DON’T know yet.

Happy teachers don’t expect perfection.

We don’t expect our students to be perfect, so why would we ever hold ourselves to such an unrealistic standard?


But seriously, your students won’t remember that perfect bulletin board or the perfect pairing of fonts you used on the class newsletter… (isn’t weird how well I know you?).

Happy teachers have a life outside of school.

At times, we can feel that being a teacher is all-consuming.  We live and breathe teaching… but in reality, that’s just not healthy.

Happy teachers have things they look forward to that are completely separate from their jobs.

Set aside time every week for something that you will look forward to — for me, it was a designated “date night” with my hubby.  We decided that every Wednesday night, we would ‘unplug’ and do something together.  Some weeks, we go out to dinner, and others we play video games and eat popcorn.  Not only does this get my mind off ‘work’ in the middle of the week, but it is something I genuinely look forward to — it’s just good for the soul!

Happy teachers set boundaries.

What do you want your “work hours” to be?  Sure, you have “contract hours” where you are required to be at school, but set a realistic expectation of what time you want to be the ‘teacher-you’ every day.

For example, if you want to be ‘teacher-you’ from 7:00AM to 4:00PM, you fit alllll of the work you can inside those hours.

When 4:00PM hits, you don’t check your school email, you don’t look at Class Dojo messages, you don’t grade or lesson plan.

It is a reality for teachers that our work never ends… so if you wanted to be the teacher-you 24/7… you really could do that without ever running out of things to do.

Setting boundaries of work time and personal time will give you a sense of urgency to complete those “must do” tasks, and maaaybe just let some of the non-important stuff go — and that’s okay!

Happy teachers stay organized.

Being organized has a different meaning for everyone.  If you are one of those people that has a messy classroom, but YOU know where everything is?  Great.

For me, I need things to be uncluttered and organized.  A cluttered classroom equals a cluttered mind.

Eliminate the frustration of not knowing where things are, or losing papers, or missing deadlines.  Those things are a one-way ticket to being a consistent whiner and complainer that we talked about before.

Keep a planner/calendar.  Have a to-do list.  And stay on top of both of them.

Even if you write something on your to-do list that you’ve already done, juuuust so you can cross it off – you do you!!


Happy teachers can say no.

You don’t have to be a member of every committee to be a good teacher.  You don’t have to volunteer for every club or meeting to be a good teacher.

Being a part of those things is often a part of our professional responsibility, but don’t bite off more than you can chew.

It is better to be great at a few things, than good at a bunch of things.

Saying NO to the extras just means that you want and need to focus on your students and their learning before you take on any more, and there is NOTHING wrong with that!

Happy teachers don’t recreate the wheel every day.

Teachers are innovative and creative by nature, and this can be a blessing or a curse.

It’s a blessing because it is what makes us individuals as teachers – we each bring something unique to our students and they are better because of it.

It’s a curse because we can do too much.

Don’t try to make EVERY lesson a ‘bells & whistles‘ lesson… maybe just pick ONE thing each day that you want to put your magic touch on!  Once you’ve mastered that, take on a little more.

If your curriculum provides you a perfectly good lesson to use with your students, but YOU found something on Pinterest that seems soooooo much better (you know you’ve done this)…. just think about what you are going to sacrifice to make that Pinterest lesson happen.

That extra hour that it will take to prep the Pinterest lesson instead of using the lesson you already have – what else could you be doing in that hour and is the difference the lesson will make for your students engagement and learning worth that?

If you answer yes, GO FOR IT!  Pinterest that lesson up, girl.  

If you answer no… it is perfectly OKAY to use what you are given because no matter what, you are going to put your own unique twist and excitement to it… because that’s just who you are!

Happy teachers make time to get to know their students.

Teachers who take the time to form positive relationships with their students will always be happier than teachers who see their students just as a job.  Always.

In the middle of a hard day, the teacher who just STOPS and watches her students for a few minutes and sees the smiles on their faces, the lightbulb moments, their interactions with peers, and their innocence will be able to turn it around easier and faster than the teacher who just plows through to get to the end of the day (when she, more often than not, will whine and complain to everyone else about how crap-tastic her day was).

Take away all the negativity, all the requirements, objectives, standards, assessments, assignments, deadlines, expectations, and rules….. those children are your why.

If you need to find your happy, just take a time out on all the rest and read a funny book with them.  Ask them what they want to learn about.  Talk to them about what makes them excited.

Making those connections is the most important part of our jobs… we know it even if everyone else thinks its stuff like test scores and data.

Happy teachers remember this, always <3

Pin this post for yourself and for your teacher-friends by clicking on this image!


Do you have anything you’d add to this list?  I’d love to hear from you, so drop a comment below!!


xoxo, Jennifer

Work Smarter, Not Harder

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