March 19, 2014


Filed under: Uncategorized — mvervinck @ 10:58 pm
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Sitting in the computer lab across from one of the ESL classrooms for adult students who are learning English, I heard the teacher play the song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams at the beginning of her class. I love this song. The up tempo and playful beat along with the slangy words and phrases always catches my attention. It was a lot more interesting than what I was doing (checking email), and as the supervising teacher, it is my job to know what is going on in the classrooms. (I would much rather join in on a class where I hear a mixture of laughter and language than a classroom that is silent with the teacher occupying the corner of the room at a desk.) I decided to slip in and sit in the back of the room.

Just as I walked in, the teacher asked, “What makes you happy?”

I settle in a chair in the back of the room to listen to the student’s comments. The responses were as varied as the students in the classroom and were indicative of the different ages and stages of the students. One student answered that she is happy when she leaves work while another student is happy when she is at work. A third student said she is happy when she travels and is planning a trip to Dubai. There was a consensus that many of them were happy when they know their children are safe. Others responded that they are happy when they are doing crafts like making homemade cards or scrap booking. Everyone listened to the answers of each student in the room and nodded their approval and agreement.

Of course, when teaching ESL, the teacher participates, as do I when invited to do so. Sometimes, these questions are difficult to answer, but this question was not. I said that I am happy when I am at home safely with my children and sitting in a chair reading a good book with a cup of tea. It is true; that’s where I would love to be right now on this rainy evening. However, to be honest, I am happy right now. Even though supervising teachers who teach at night may not be my first choice of things to do, it does make me happy. I enjoy my work. I enjoy working with the teachers. I enjoy learning from my students, so all in all, I am happy right where I am right now.

One student responds with the saying, “Don’t worry, be happy,” which the teachers hears and mentions to the class that this phrase is also the title to a song. Since the students admit that they have never heard this song before, I jump on it. I tell them that I will go and find the song on the Internet so that they can listen to it at the end of class. Off I go to the computer lab to do what I just promised. I find the song, and right now, it is ready for them to listen to at the end of class. And, you know what – that’s something else that makes me happy. The chance to share music, language and, I am sure, more laughter and fun with students as they learn English. It is a great way to spend a Wednesday evening!

What about you? What makes you happy?



  1. this post makes me so happy. I love this song and it always puts me in a great mood!
    I think I’m happiest surrounded by my family, best friends, and boyfriend. Or any combination of those in those groups. My special people make the happiest in this life!
    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Comment by Michelle Brezek — March 19, 2014 @ 11:17 pm | Reply

  2. I’m happy when I have time and space to read and write, alone or with others.

    Comment by gillis — March 20, 2014 @ 12:07 am | Reply

  3. I am happy to read about such a positive experience in an ESL classroom and loved learning that this made you so happy. I am an ESL teacher and actually experienced many moments of happiness with my students, but rarely was there ever such a witness as yourself to share such a moment with us.
    What makes me happy is spending time with my two 30-something children doing anything.

    Comment by barbarasut — March 22, 2015 @ 4:15 pm | Reply

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