Happy Learners, Happy Class

Hello summertime!
So before we launched for summer break, this happened.

Art Guild students stopped by to letter our True Colors table. 

I rescued this table from a neighbor's trash over spring break
and painted a rainbow on it.
Then our artists put the finishing touches on it;
talk about your garbage to gold project.

Isn't it brilliant?

So today I woke up today feeling extra joyful. 
Pure and simple.
Not sure why, but I'll take it.

Maybe because I slept in and feel really well rested.
Possibly because I'm joining a ukulele band today.
Probably because of this stunning Sketchnote creation.

Doesn't this beautiful image just make you feel happy?

I collaborated with Texas teacher Julie Woodard to create it as a banner for our Bales Intermediate table at something new that our district is trying to welcome our new-to-our-district families called the FISD Registration Rodeo. I wanted something to complement our vision and integrate our six core values; didn't Julie do an amazing job? If you want to commission a special visual, find Julie on Twitter {@woodard_julie}. Or just let me know and I'll connect you with her.

My daughter resized it so we could print the 4X2 banner and voila.

A campus goal is that our transfer students feel welcomed at their new school, that they'll feel like they belong, that they know that they matter to us, and that they will be happy being a Bronco. I know we can't guarantee happiness, but I believe that they deserve a climate of caring where everybody uses our core values to intentionally be the rainbow in someone's storm. The storm-to-rainbow ratio can be disproportionate for our young people; we don't want school to be another storm for them to endure, but instead a sanctuary from the hurricanes of life.

So as I plan for next year, I'm thinking about ways 
to make sure we always move over and let those newbies in,
to make our school climate joyfully safe and happy,
and to bring our True Colors to life as we serve and grow.

I find myself reading and reflecting. A lot. 
Here are the three treasures I've mined from so far.

These two authors Todd and Adam serve as lead learners in their schools and the content of their book will surely make your heart sing. So many practical ideas for transforming your school climate with vulnerable examples from their own failures and successes to help you find the right formula for your school family. My favorite idea is the Day Maker phone calls to the parents and families of faculty members. It seriously gives me chill bumps to think about a Principal calling my dad to tell him what a great job I've done on something and to affirm him for his part in my work ethic and joy. Do yourself and your stakeholders a favor and delve in to your copy today. Your Kids Deserve It.

I'm so glad that the author of this handbook, Dr. Jenna Sage, reached out to me to put a copy of it in my hands and on my heart. I love the empowerment that the front cover represents and it only gets better from there as you dive in and turn the pages for practical suggestions on how to manage unwanted behaviors as you shape them into desired behaviors. I especially connected with the section on the functions of behavior. Behavior helps students communicate to get their needs met. Alabama Principal Danny Steele says it like this:

We simply must understand that students do not really want to throw temper tantrums or act out like sometimes they do. Once we can see beneath those behaviors to get to their root cause, we can offer appropriate replacement behaviors to equip and empower students to soar more successfully. If you strive for that Happy Class, then this book is for you.

My third recommendation is a book that you will want to Start {reading}. Right. Now! Its basis is this John Maxwell's reflection on leadership ... 

... with a bonus. The dynamic trio of edu-hero authors adds this fourth domain to Maxwell's three-pronged ideal: And grows each day.
Amen! Whether you are a new teacher, veteran teacher, administrator or even student leader, grow with these experts through the pages of this gem and I predict it'll leave you wanting the 2017-2018 school year to 
Start {back up again}. Right. Now.

Want another strategy for inspiring happy learners and a happy class?
Join the #JoyfulLeaders movement now.
Choose joy.
Look for it.
With intention.
Every moment of every day.

And when you find it, give it away!
On purpose.
To someone who has lost theirs.
Or to someone who hasn't but could use a booster shot.
You'll be glad you did 
because it'll make you happy, too.
You'll see.
Joy is contagious like that ... 
you give it away but it's still yours.
And it will serve as that beacon of light that we all need
on the darkest of days.
Trust me. I know.

How will you find joy today
so that you can share it with your happy learners 
in your happy class?

And now it's back to work for me as I prepare
for my workshop with Texas Principals in Austin next week.
I'm so grateful to have been invited to present.
If you're at the TEPSA conference, I hope you'll come to my learning session Wednesday morning at 8:30 to learn more about Inspiring perseverance, grit, resilience and a growth mindset.

It would make me happy to see you there.


  1. Hey Barbara, I would love to order a 4x2 of the Show Your True Colors. Do know if Julie sells them or sells the image for people to have it printed?

    1. I paid Julie to make this for me, so I've got the rights ... would you like me to make the banner and send it to you with an invoice? Our banners are half off for a few more days! Or I could email you the image formatted for a 4X2 and you can make it there to avoid shipping costs.

    2. Could you let me know if this offer is still available? Just found out that this will fit our school theme next year. If you can still do this, could you let me know the cost? Thank you!

    3. I have an extra banner ready to go if you'd like me to ship it your way. It was $50 to print. If you'd rather, I can send you the file as you may be able to print it cheaper somewhere closer to you. Email me: bgruener5@gmail.com and we can chat about it.


I really enjoy hearing from my readers; thanks for sharing your reflections with us!