Friday, March 20, 2009

Chicken Soup for the Soul in the Classroom

Changing the World: One Student at a Time, and One Story at a Time
by Anna Unkovich

Five Things You Can Do To Foster Happiness in Your Classrooms
Creating an emotionally honest and safe learning environment may not be easy, but Anna lends you a hand with her insightful guide to fostering happiness in your classroom.

  1. Create a climate where students feel safe to experience a wide range of feelings. They cannot express joy without also accessing their sorrow, anger, or frustration. In addition, they must learn how to communicate these feelings in appropriate ways. Ultimately, this empowers them to cope with life.

  2. Read to students at every level, every day. My college students enjoy hearing a good story as much as my younger students did. Stories make heart-to-heart connections: student-to-self, student-to-student, and student-to-teacher. Stories provide a quick access to feelings, and follow-up writing is a good way to express these emotions.

  3. Research shows that successful people read. You need not be an English teacher to model reading for your students. I know math, Spanish, and science teachers who regularly read to their students. You can read short, motivational stories, or pages from a book that relate to your subject matter—perhaps a book on Nikola Tesla, President Obama, or anyone who captures your passion, for it is your passion that will shine through and connect with your students.

  4. Choose stories that present the messages that you desire—stories of hope, determination, overcoming obstacles—true stories of personal empowerment. For me, the daily dose of Chicken Soup significantly and positively changed classroom behavior. Lost time spent reading more than compensated for less time spent disciplining.

  5. Practice random acts of kindness, and create classroom projects where students can experience the joyfulness of giving, and where they recognize their connection with, and responsibility toward others on this planet.

Cover of Chicken Soup for the Soul in the Classroom
With over 35 years experience as a teacher and coach, Anna now devotes much of her time to writing and motivational speaking. She is a co-author of
Chicken Soup for the Soul in the Classroom and education director for the Pay It Forward Foundation. She chooses to find her happiness every day in life's simple pleasures, including a good book, a solo motorcycle ride, and a walk on the beach with her husband.


My advice for those who are looking to start making change in their communities is to never give up and to understand that we can make a difference. It takes time, blood, sweat, and tears. It’s one thing to mobilize people to attend and be a part of a project. At the same time, it is also significant to organize groups and establish relationships with your community to build an understanding of love and justice.

Students and teachers are in this together, and we must continue to fight for quality education as a constitutional right!

Finding Happiness Beyond the Classroom
by Chris Goodman