Publication Date


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT)

First Advisor

Dr. Susan Barduhn


Since I began teaching 10 years ago, I have been summoned by an energy, a vitality that is guiding me. Most days when I walk into the classroom, no matter what is going on in my life, I connect with an energy that makes my heart feel full, brings my whole body alive and fills me with joy. This thesis is an investigation of what I experience when I enter the classroom. I love the energy I have in the classroom. I don’t think it is special to me. I think this energy is available to anyone, if they are willing to do the work. Using the lens of David Kolb’s experiential learning cycle, I tell the stories of some experiences in my life, and what I have learned from them. This learning has led me to practices that, used over time, have helped me to access a vitality that has changed my classrooms and my life. At its core these practices are about welcoming the unwelcome parts of ourselves. When we can bring kindness to our darkest side, we become agents of peace in the world. I believe that any teacher can use this and transform their classrooms. I developed a five-week experiment for teachers to see if brief, regular practices could cultivate a sense of joy in the classroom. My goal was to offer small, easy-to-use, specific skills that practiced on a daily basis, could make a positive difference in teachers’ lives. In this thesis I share ways and practices that teachers can use to increase their personal joy and vitality, enrich the vibrancy of their classrooms and fill their students with self-love and love of learning. This is the fruit of self-knowledge.


Adult and Continuing Education and Teaching | Curriculum and Instruction | Curriculum and Social Inquiry | Humane Education | Teacher Education and Professional Development