Teaching Tips for Reflection, Rejuvenation, and Renewal

Journey of Joy and Joy Ride: Teaching Tips for Reflection, Rejuvenation, and Renewal

Now available in spiral-bound format, this two-part book will encourage and inspire faculty who may have fallen out of love with teaching.

The thrill is gone makes for a great blues song, but it also can be an accurate, albeit unfortunate, description of how experienced teachers may sometimes feel.

Patty H. Phelps, EdD knows what it’s like. At one point in her career, her teaching life had reached what felt like a dead end. She would see articles in her local newspaper about faculty who were retiring and longed to be one of them. At the time, she was “going through the motions” and had definitely lost her joy of teaching.

Today, Phelps has her joy back and she’s helping others regain their passion for teaching, too. In the 2012 release, Journey of Joy: Teaching Tips for Reflection, Rejuvenation and Renewal, she shared her experiences and offered advice on keeping teaching fresh and invigorated. As a follow-up, in 2013 Phelps wrote Joy Ride: More Teaching Tips for Reflection, Rejuvenation, and Renewal, which features additional anecdotes and practical strategies for getting and staying engaged, enthused, and excited about teaching.

Previously available only as separate PDF downloads, now you can get both popular guides in a spiral-bound print format. Together, that’s a full 52 pages of insight and strategies to help you strengthen your commitment to teaching. All for just $20, including shipping and handling in the US and Canada.

Preview before buying:


What are your joy zappers?

Take a few minutes to identify those times when your joy has been low or nonexistent. What robs you of experiencing real joy in teaching? In part one of this book, Phelps identifies three main sources that zap joy:

1. Ruts rob us of joy. It is easy to become comfortable with our approach to teaching. Playing it safe by duplicating a course semester after semester will not bring much joy. At first, doing so may feel freeing and offer a sense of relief. However, whenever we start teaching as if we were on “autopilot,” our joy will diminish.

The way to remedy this dilemma is to try something new—change textbooks, revise major course assignments, teach a different course, learn a new technology tool to incorporate, and/or interact with peers on the subject of teaching to gain new ideas. Strategies such as these help us escape the rut into which we have fallen.

2. Our mindset or perspective can also decrease our sense of joy in teaching. If, for example, our first response to seeing an email from a certain student is, “Oh no, what does she want now?!” then we are likely to experience less joy. A better response might be to say: “How can I help this student who tends to send excessive emails?” Having a different mindset will encourage us to take a different tactic. No doubt, the things that students say can impact our joy level. We have all heard these comments or questions from students:

  • “Does this count?”
  • “I was absent so I don’t know what to do.”
  • “Did I miss anything?”
  • “Is this what you want?”

To be honest, these statements and questions cause me to wonder if I want to continue in teaching. However, a more positive perspective challenges me to listen for different messages from students such as follows:

  • “Did you see/hear X on the news?”
  • “Thanks for your help.”
  • “I have a question.”
  • “Can you help me?”

These statements and questions serve as door openers for JOY (Just Offer Yourself). They are opportunities to be of service or expressions of gratitude for our service. We need to listen more carefully because students do indeed say them.

3. Being enslaved to content coverage is a big joy zapper. Maryellen Weimer (2010, p. 159) calls this a mistaken belief about content that prevents faculty growth. Making coverage the most important part of what we do only leads to frustration. We just cannot keep up the pace. Neither can our students. A changed perspective will help. What we really should be trying to do is to “uncover” content as we allow students to have “ah-ha” learning experiences. Furthermore, in removing content coverage from the pedestal we have created, we should identify the big ideas that we want to stick in our students’ minds. We can consider as well how we want students to “be” as a result of our teaching. This focus on the dispositional dimensions of learning can yield more joy when we see growth in students.

Watch a brief interview with the author:

About the author

Dr. Patty Phelps is a professor at the University of Central Arkansas and the director of the university’s Instructional Development Center. In Journey of Joy: Teaching Tips for Reflection, Rejuvenation and Renewal, and Joy Ride: More Teaching Tips for Reflection, Rejuvenation, and Renewal, Phelps offers her personal perspectives as a means to help others find joy along the way, too. For the past four years she has led a standing-room-only session on joy in teaching at the annual Teaching Professor Conference, inspiring her to create this written work to share with an even larger audience.


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