HAPPINESS HABITS: Set Goals, Acknowledge Success, Build in Rewards, Have Fun!

Maxing out your joy and minimizing the impact of upsets are learned skills. My blog is based on the belief we can learn from the experts, our own experiences,  and each other. Circumstances may differ, but they often reflect common basic truths. Happiness is a Habit…we can learn how, practice, and have fun! Post your questions and comments, and I’ll try to show you how you be happy if…

HAPPINESS HABITS: Set Goals, Acknowledge Success, Build in Rewards, Have Fun!

My profession, which is also a great source of satisfaction and pleasure, is teaching English.  One of my classes is called Intensive Writing (also called 095 remedial writing).  My students are in my class for one reason – they failed the college writing test-  the  ACT Exam.  The ACT Exam is a gateway exam which students have to pass in order to move ahead to take courses for college credit.  My students come to me after failing that exam.  As you can imagine, the semester begins with everyone in a sour mood. They don’t want to be there.  Who can blame them? In fact, when I started teaching remedial writing, I didn’t want to be there either.  I resisted teaching 095  (and teaching in general) for years.  Then, to my own surprise (and after getting past some rough spots) I discovered that I could actually help those students and have a lot of fun doing it!  They (and I) may have some failures in our past (my own shortcomings just didn’t show up on an ACT exam) – but our train is now movin’ on down the line!  As one of my bright students wrote in her class essay – “Failure can Lead to Success!”  Here’s how…

Set Clear Goals. I write “Goals” on the blackboard and draw a bull’s-eye around it.  Under it, I write “Become Better Writers & Pass the ACT Exam”.  I ask the class: “Who can agree on this as a goal?”  The hands go up.  Once I get agreement, I reason backward from Goals. I put in arrows pointing to the goals, and going backwards, all the smaller goals we have to achieve to reach this main goal.  All the arrows point forward to the next goal. Pictures help the visual learners, and besides, I like drawing pictures.  We all agree on the Big Goals and the Smaller Goals. That is the design of  the course.

Every assignment is broken down in pieces, I consult with each student on a piece of the writing. When each essay has been revised until it is correct, the student reads it aloud to the rest of the class.  I ask the class questions about the essay to make sure they are listening. Then the student gets a star in the color of his/her choice. The students love and demand these stars!   Giving a choice of color shows respect for their individuality and gives them a sense of control. These assignments do not count for grades, but I feel it is important to Measure & Acknowledge Each Success & Build in Rewards – the stars do that.

I also enter their names in a class list. When they complete an assignment,  I put an X  by their names. One assignment = one X; two assignments = two X’s; three assignments = three X’s.  I tell them our goal is to have a Triple X rated Class!  We all had  good laugh at that one. One of my male students mumbled something that went beyond triple X.  I told him I didn’t understand because I had led a sheltered life 🙂  Goals are important – but they don’t have to make us uptight. Laughter loosens us up, so Have Fun!

Please post your comments, stories, and questions. I try to show you How To Be Happy If….

Dr. Susan Horowitz is a Motivational, Entertaining Speaker, Professor, Singer-Songwriter (CD “Keys of Love”) and Author of “Queens of Comedy” (interviews with Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, Joan Rivers, Phyllis Diller, Joy Behar, etc.) “Read with Me” (Children’s Book of the Month Club),  “I Am Loved” (Poetry).

Web: http://www.drsue.com

Keys of Love” –  positive songs on CD Baby – http://www.cdbaby.com/drsue

copyright 2010 Susan “Dr. Sue” Horowitz


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