I recently stumbled across the #TheMeaningOfLifeIn4Words hashtag, and though I’m a writer and a lover of words, I’m also a fan of simplicity and essence, so I took up the challenge. My 4 words: “blow bubbles when necessary,” but we’ll get to that in a moment.

In the Classroom

First off, if you’re looking for a way to build rapport with your students and help them get to know one another, try challenging them to come up with their own meaning of life in 4 words. It’s a great way to kick off a culture that supports risk-taking at the onset of the school year because there are no boundaries (ok, maybe you’ll need to enforce some boundaries with those middle schoolers). It’s a wide-open topic that allows students to explore how they can uniquely interact with the world around them and to begin being comfortable sharing their point of view with other people. Give it a try and let us know what they come up with!

Just for You

Now to the bubbles. I chose these 4 words because I want simply to strive for happiness in all that I do, and nothing can make me smile like bubbles. I’m human and am susceptible to all the sadness, pain, and frustration that plague any of us, but in the worst of times, I want always to find something that can make me smile. So, I commit to myself that in the best of times and in the worst of times, I will seek out joy, even if it means opening up a bottle of bubbles and blowing them like no one’s watching.

Teaching is stressful. We put high expectations on ourselves, especially now, at the beginning of a school year, and we strive for perfection because we know the greatness of the potential impact we have on our students. But remember that your students deserve the very best version of you, so fiercely protect your happiness and stubbornly create a work-life balance for yourself. Find the one thing that you know will bring a smile to your face no matter what. For me, it’s bubbles, but what is it for you? Have it on standby and use when necessary. Good luck this year and happy teaching!