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TIES 16 Keynote-Dean Shareski: Whatever Happened to Joy? And How Do We Get It Back?

Way back in November 2007, I joined Twitter. Finally, in the spring of 2008, I realized I needed to follow people. One of the first people I followed, was an educator from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Dean Shareski.


Today, I had the pleasure of hearing Dean's presentation as a keynote of TIES 2016: Whatever Happened to Joy? And How Do We Get It Back?

Joy should be integral to what we do every day!

He had 3 moments in his teaching career that made him realize joy was so important...

  1. Looking at a photo from his first year, "Why doesn't Christina ever smile?" Did she ever find her joy? It was a moment that mattered most.
  2. He was walking through an elementary school, and kids were singing as the teacher played guitar. There is something powerful about community, coming together and doing things collectively.
  3. Around 6-7 years ago, and lip dubs first came out. and he saw this one:

With regards to this video: Does it address outcomes? Do it and the heck with outcomes! Shareski said, "I want to do this with kids!"  

Do you believe learning is like "Buckleys?" "It tastes awful, but it works! Is this similar to your curriculum?

He has a goal of stamping out the concept of "rigor!" People keep using the word, without really knowing what it means!
Look at the definitions of rigor, and tell me which one you want to define your classroom!



Shareski quotes Alfie Kohn to show that joy is an end in itself as a worthy goal in the classroom. In addition, this question from Bill Ferriter is worth consideration!
We are adding a lot of stress to our student's lives, and sucking the love of learning out of them. It's happening at all levels!
Shareski is concerned that when education is only seen as an economic driver, we lose something. Education should be more than that!
Joy, you know it when you see it!! 


Here are the key ways to get joy back:
  • Live in Constant Wonder!! "Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed" Don't mess up good learning opportunities by "Googling" something and avoiding wonder... Michelle Baldwin's 4th grade classroom-"The Architects of Wonder!" Are you creating opportunity and space to ask beautiful questions?
  • Embracing play: His wife's 2nd grade classroom gets a day to share what they want. One day last year was "toast!"
"Playfulness as an intellectual goal is approriate to learning. It's more effective, more humane, and more child-like." Seymour Pappert.

Connecting play and imagination is one of the most important aspects today. Failure is free! The first webcam was set up to see if the coffee pot on the 2nd floor had coffee in it!



  • Embrace Playfulness in the Workplace: Work should be a delightful experience! "Is your classroom/school/district a delightful place?" 
“They said - Adults need to have fun so children will want to grow up.” ― Erica BauermeisterJoy for Beginners
  • Eliminate Business! Busy is NOT a badge of honor! Business is not going to make your classroom delightful! One of the best things we can do for kids is model managing our own stress! "Busy is the default status! Let us know if it changes!"
  • Find and Use Your Unfair Advantage! "What is the one thing that you do that makes you unique and gives you an "unfair" advantage?" What is your passion? What makes you unique? Teaching is both an art and a science. 
Gary Stager_ "One of the best things you can do for your students is to be an interesting adult!"

"Relationships and then content, both matter, and so does the order!"
Shareski shared a story about a study that asked students to remember their 1st grade teacher's name. Many remembered a teacher other than the one they really had! 20 years from now, will your students remember your name? 
Joy is the serious business of heaven! C.S. Lewis
Shareski's talk was a refreshing reminder of what is really important in our work: building positive relationships and making school a place students want to come to! I think it should qualify for MN Mental Health CEU's!



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