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Do You Wanna Play?

derek sleeping

These were the first words out of my son’s mouth the other day when he woke up. I don’t mean the first words when he came downstairs and had had a chance to start his day. I mean, I was in the room when he first opened his eyes and joined the non-sleeping world.

No good morning.

No eye-rubbing, half-groggy half lucid state.

He literally looked right at me and said

Do you wanna play?”


How do we do this?

If you’re at all like me the first thought on your mind is often

“What do I have to do today?”

Big difference!

How can we get back to that?

Can we get back to that?

Imagine waking up each morning and your brain is immediately directed towards what you want to do and not what you have to do.

That would be powerful!

That would be life altering!

Here are some suggestions that I think may help you have more enthusiasm for your day and maybe, just maybe, when you wake up tomorrow morning you will be thinking more about what you want to do and less about what you have to do.

Look To Serve Those That Serve Others

simon sinek1

If you are in education then there is a chance that each day you go to work you might get hit, screamed at, rejected, embarrassed, etc.

Guess what?

So might every other person in your building! Therefore, approach the day with the mindset that you are there to serve others. Because you are! And if you have read this far, then I’m sure you already know this. Make it your goal to help your staff members in any way possible. Maybe you can prevent your staff from experiencing some of the stressful events I mentioned earlier.

The cool part of this is that once people notice you serving others, they will begin to do the same. Selflessness will become infectious!

Simon Sinek captures beautifully what it feels like once you make the decision to serve others.

“I wanted to serve those that serve others. That was my decision, that was how I was going to spend the next four days. Instantaneously I felt fine. I felt completely fine. I felt relaxed. I was eager….It was perfect, serene, beautiful. I had found a purpose.”

Make A List Of Things To Look Forward To

something to look forward to

As I mentioned in the previous section, education can be a stressful business. That’s ok because we know what we signed on for and we are passionate about it. During the course of the day it can be easy to hang our head just a bit or worry about the next “fire” we’re going to have to put out.

I have no silver bullet for those “fires”. They will continue to ignite. But I do think I have something that can help you shift your focus.

Each morning on a sheet of paper that you keep with you, write down a list of things you are looking forward to. Write down something that you are looking forward to doing; after school, this weekend, this month, in the next few months, next summer, etc.

I have found this to be very powerful in helping me stay grounded. If I am having a stressful day, then I just remind myself that when I get home, my family and I are watching a movie and eating some popcorn. It sounds simple, but it works.

Reminding yourself of the happy events you have planned in your life doesn’t make the difficult ones go away, it just make somehow makes them seem less difficult.

Set a Goal For the Day and Do All You Can To Reach It


I am not talking about a goal that is going to be measured by anyone else but you. In fact, you will be the only one that even knows it exists.

For example, if discipline referrals are up in your building make it your goal today to circulate as much as possible so that on this day you have zero referrals. You might be succesful, you might not. But you will have fun trying and only you will know if you didn’t reach it.

Or, if you are new to a building, or just are bad with names like me, make it your goal to learn as many names as possible. This always means so much and quite frankly it is a skill I do not yet possess.

Maybe you are trying to get your school more connected. Make it your goal to get five people signed up and interested in Twitter. Maybe you only get one. But this is one more than you would have had if you never had this goal.

The key is you set a goal that nobody knows about but you. You do all that you can to reach it. Many times you probably don’t. But on those days that you do, you are on top of the world. More than anything this small, private, personal goal keeps you forward thinking and gives you a little kick in the pants that we all need from time to time.

Collect Smiles


Tara Rose (@teacherfirst73) tweeted this out this morning and I absolutely love it! What could be a more meaningful way to approach each day than this?

I make it a personal point of mine to create as many smiles as possible each day. I sing, I tell jokes, I help staff members find the humor in life. Because it is there and I believe I can help them find it.

If you work hard at this by the end of the day you will have collected more smiles than you’d ever imagine. And they will show. Because every smile you create shines back at you and makes yours brighter and brighter until people can’t help but feel warm in your presence.

Look for Something to Blog or Tweet About


If you are reading this then you obviously are on Twitter or some type of social media site. And if don’t already, I highly recommend that you start blogging. Your voice is so important and everyone one of us gains from hearing it.

Don’t worry about perfect grammar. I certainly don’t. Don’t worry of anyone will like what you share. We will, as long as you share from the heart. I promise. And the feeling you will get when you share what you’ve been feeling and someone else responds that they have been feeling the same thing is amazing. There you go, run on sentence. See, I told you your grammar doesn’t need to be perfect.

So today, look with new eyes. Look for something that you think might interest others and then write about it. I promise you I will read it and then I will retweet it and others will read it and so on and so on. You will look forward to each day and its possibilities more than you ever have before.

Good Luck Being Three Tomorrow

So there you have it. Five suggestions that I think will help you approach each day with the enthusiasm and happiness of an energetic three-year old.

Our jobs can be very difficult at times, but they can also be very rewarding. I guarantee you that if you try just one of these techniques your enthusiasm for each day will increase by at least 20%. And if you try all five?


6 comments on “Do You Wanna Play?

  1. @8amber8 says:

    I LOOOOOOOOOOOOVE so many things about this!!!

    1. jonharper70 says:

      Thank you so much. That means a lot!

  2. Great, Jon! I really enjoyed your point about serving those who serve. I am aiming for “Mobile Office 3.0” this year….three hours a day with kids and teachers….with one of those reasons being to do a more effective job directly serving people each day. Thanks for sharing.

    1. jonharper70 says:

      Jason that sounds awesome. I know for a fact that I wasn’t in the class enough this past year. Great job on the thirty second take. That was a lot of fun. Brad is awesome!

  3. Joy says:

    Jon, this is just what I needed to read as I plan for a successful school year ahead. Thank you for sharing practical suggestions to get us back to our happy place as we serve or students, teachers and families!

  4. Ben Gilpin says:

    Terrific Jon. You put to words what I so often think about…Collecting Smiles.

    That’s a great way to think of it. Each day I want to be the constant that kids can see loving what I do. It isn’t a job, it’s my mission to show my passion and joy.

    Your list was very good, and my takeaway is Derek. Our kids just want to enjoy life. Will we embrace this mentality or squash it? I for one hope I can help our students enjoy school and life.


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