Back to Zero with Dr. Joy – The Authority 77

Ross Romano: [00:00:00] You're listening to the Authority Podcast on the Be Podcast Network. Thank you, everybody, for being here with us today for another great episode. My guest today is Dr. Joy. Dr. Joy is an educator, author, and lead consultant at JoyWorkEDU. Throughout her career, she served as a classroom teacher, professional learning facilitator, instructional coach, school administrator, college instructor, and educational consultant, so all the roles across the spectrum there.

And in every role, she learned the importance of holding on to her joy. Dr. Joy is the author of two books, including Back to Zero, published by Edge Match, which we'll be discussing today. Dr. Joy, welcome to The Authority.

Dr Joy: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to be here.

Ross Romano: So, you know, [00:01:00] we heard this word a number of times in my intro. So let's talk about it. What does joy mean to you?

Dr Joy: Aw man joy has just become an intentional way of life for me. It's been a journey. I always tell people, I call myself Dr. Joy because my dad gave me the nickname Joy when I was a little girl. And I never liked it. But as I grew older, I realized how much I needed joy in my life and that name was actually a blessing because it's helped me to put it at the forefront, you know, of the way I work, the way I navigate life, just.

Purposefully to be intentional about my joy and working to encourage others to do the same. And so people also think that like this means that I'm always the most joyful person in the world. And that's why I do this work. The reason why I actually do this work is because I actually was not the most joyful person in the world.

And so I keep it at the forefront of my life because this is how I [00:02:00] choose to live so that I'm not the person that I don't want to be.

Ross Romano: Right. Yeah. I think joy is something to be sought, right? It's not just the default state of being for most people, especially for adults and while a lot of times. Kids may exude joy in any number of different circumstances. There comes a certain point where it becomes foreign to too many of us, right?

Or exceedingly rare. And, you know, There's environments in which, yeah, and we need to intentionally create that. So how about the learning environment, schools, classroom? Why do you feel it's important for students to have joyful learning?

Dr Joy: Also that it's meaningful and that they can remember those experiences. And I think in order for students to be able to experience joy in schools, teachers have to tap into joy for themselves. So many times we're saying, you [00:03:00] know, Bring joy to work, bring joy to students, bring joy to learning, but we never focus on allowing the educators to tap into their own joy.

What does it mean to them? How does it connect to their role? How do they navigate their roles with joy? You know, how do they find joy? How do they exemplify it? So many things that I never thought about. As a teacher, you know, I never really took time to reflect on it. Nobody, you know, wasn't a conversation, you know, now we hear more and more about, you know, self care and your well being and all of those things, but entering the teaching profession, how I was going to tap into joy and learn to love what I do and be able to be in a state of joy, even in the midst of challenges.

And most importantly, recognizing that my joy was my responsibility. So it didn't matter who was facilitating or running that building, what students I had, what [00:04:00] parents came in that building. My joy was Always going to be my responsibility. It was going to be my responsibility to sustain it, to identify, to cultivate it, to exemplify all of those things.

And that's something I did not recognize going into the teaching profession. It just wasn't a conversation or something that I've reflected on.

Ross Romano: Yeah. And this has come up from time to time in different conversations, even on this show and the concept that students Being the example here, but this applies to anybody in any room. They're going to respond to what they see and what they feel, right? So, if they have a teacher who is exhibiting joy in their teaching and what they're doing and is really involved and engaged, then they're going to respond in kind.

If they have a teacher that is disengaged, burned out, unhappy going through the motions, then they're going to respond in turn. So it's, you know, it's not only[00:05:00] an opportunity and an aspiration to bring that joy, but it all, you know, it affects everything from the mundane to the extraordinary. It affects everything from that switch between engagement and disengagement, interest and learning and disinterest, to even, you know, it can be the difference between deeper emotional unhappiness to the, you know, transition all to joyful living.

But It's very, it's contagious and it's interactive and it's again, you know, it might not be the first thing that comes to mind for a lot of people, a lot of educators when they walk in each day to try to get all the way to that level. But when you think about the influence it can have on students and their perspectives and their feelings toward being in the classroom and learning it makes it a [00:06:00] lot more clear why it's something to work toward.

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Dr Joy: yes, absolutely. And kids, you know, they deserve joy when they enter school, they have pressures and challenges that they navigate just like adults do and I think sometimes we forget that. And they come to school with those and they also have to navigate them within school and. And so just giving them a space I always say I just You know, for my own children, I just hope that they have something that they connect to, something that they're excited that they're learning about to tell me and in some space, doesn't have to be the entire, every place they're not going to fit in, but somewhere, some space in that school that they find some sense of belonging within those, within that school setting.

Ross Romano: What kind of at the classroom level or even in the school, right? Tangibly, like what does it look like when you have this joyful environment where students, educators are experiencing?

Dr Joy: I think for me. It's definitely a [00:07:00] sense of connection, and you're not going to connect with every student on every single level or with that same level of intensity, but connection is so important because no one wants to be on like a joy journey alone. It's irresponsible to be joyful, but no one wants to feel like they have no one to connect to.

So I think creating opportunities for students to find ways to connect, you know, so when we talk about Things like challenges that we have in school. That's a conversation that involves all of us. So that's a conversation that we can connect, you know, and have with students as a whole, and not wait for something to happen or single students out who we see, like, visibly having challenges, but know that this is something that connects us all, no matter where we're from, what backgrounds we have, we all come here with challenges.

And so creating those kind of connections where we have empathy for each other, [00:08:00] I think is so important in schools, getting us sort of all on the same baseline with certain topics, so that we don't feel isolated. And so I think those are some of the things are tangible ways to support that joy in learning is that connectedness, empathy, sharing stories.

You know, having those spaces where students can, you know, share stories, challenging students, getting to know them, getting to know them as individuals and what strengths they bring to the classroom, what they love, you know, not even necessarily what strengths right away, but. Things that they enjoy, things that they love, like setting up an environment where you're actually feeling like everyone in there is a part of humanity and needs to be affirmed in some way.

Ross Romano: Yeah. And it strikes me that it tap into students intrinsic motivation in a way that. A lot of [00:09:00] other things can't, and there's that piece inside of everyone that just wants to be happy, just wants to enjoy what they're doing without worrying about how it's evaluated or what anybody else thinks and just to say, look, I just want to explore.

If there's something I find interesting, I want to check it out, and I don't want, you know, I don't care what anybody else thinks about that, right? And that's where, I mean, that's the heart of discovery. It's the heart of invention and innovation and is just being able to kind of pursue things and go down those rabbit holes and read about a topic and try things, right?

And test and retest and try and fail and try again. That, I mean, even when you think about things that their end result seems, doesn't seem to have an emotional component, I guess, scientific discovery, right? But it is, right? It is. If you think about[00:10:00] the people who are pursuing that you know, that discovery and that exploration they're finding the wonder and the joy in what they're learning about.

And that's what sustains. Things that I mean, sometimes are lifelong, you know, it's a lifelong process.

Dr Joy: And then finding some success in that, like every student should feel like they're successful at something, you know, and being able to pull that into the conversation with that empathy, like this is a measure of success, like showing them what that looks like for them. Because nobody wants to feel like they're trying and trying and then there's no feedback.

So I think that joy work in a classroom comes with ongoing feedback so that the students can see their growth. They can see that they're learning, they can see their progress and feel the measure of success.

Ross Romano: Yeah, absolutely, and particularly in circumstances where students can form [00:11:00] rigid opinions of themselves

At a very early age. With respect to what they believe to be their aptitude for

Their ability in different areas. And, you know, so even from that. young age where you would think it would be easier

To get to that joyful place.

It's not if you don't feel as though anything you're doing is successful or you're, you know, you're not being acknowledged for it or, you know, and eventually Nobody wants to continue doing something that they think is a failure, right,

Dr Joy: And think about it, people can tell us, affirm us all day. It only takes one person to say something to make us feel, you know, just 10 times down, you know, so we have to really work to affirm our [00:12:00] students and our children.

Ross Romano: you know, so, so the book Back to Zero can you give us a, you know, the overview of it? Who, who's it for? What's it about?

Dr Joy: sure. And that. is connected to joy. And I want to talk about the connection that I have to Back to Zero. As a parent, I had a young child who struggled in school emotionally. And that's heartbreaking as a parent when you realize that your child cannot find joy in school because they are not able to regulate their emotions.

They're not able to understand the emotions. And as a parent, I was trying everything, but I realized that Throughout this process, there was a lot that I had to learn about my own emotions and how I respond to challenges. And so I created this book, actually started off as like a poem that I wrote for my own child, because I used to think like, if I could say something to him while he was at school, having a hard time, this is what it would be.

And it sat there for a couple of years. And when I became an assistant principal, I realized, wow, this is like, A [00:13:00] widespread thing here, like we're all struggling to manage our emotions. We haven't had many conversation about conversations about self awareness, and how we respond to challenges, and we haven't had many of those conversations with our students and children in a non judgmental way.

And so the book Back to Zero for me was a way to open up a conversation, a friendly conversation with a classroom within a school setting about how we all have challenges and what can we do when we're feeling overwhelmed, anxious, upset, or angry at school, because we all have those. challenges, not just certain kids that you may see, you know, who are known for those challenges.

Like my child was known for that in school. And so it was like, it wasn't just those kids, but it's all of us, including your teachers, including your parents. And so that's how that. And so I was an assistant principal and then I started [00:14:00] working with organizations and we started really pulling the parents in.

So what this became is sort of like the back to zero professional development program from this little book. So what pulls in. teachers and it wraps around and pulls in the parents and then the students get a read aloud. So there's multiple parts so that we're all hearing the same language and the overall message is we embrace challenges with empathy and love because we all have them.

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Ross Romano: So, you know, you referenced, of course, the important role of conversations in this, and I wanted to direct it towards, so recently on, on the show here I spoke with Patrice Bain about her book, A Parent's Guide to Powerful Teaching, and she writes about the teaching triangle, educator, parent, student, right, and all three of those being those critical roles.

So I kind of wanted to go through each of those pairs and talk about the conversations that could be happening. Around emotions, right, around our feelings toward [00:15:00] learning, around joy, and also around managing negative emotions, emotional regulation, and what that looks like, and so let's start teach our student what kind of conversations can take place there?

Dr Joy: sure. That conversation can be because it's called back to zero and it takes you through sort of this process of when a child is feeling that they've reached a level of 10, which means they're overflowing with some type of negative emotion. And the teacher and the conversation between the teacher and the student, or a teacher in a classroom is really like we all have those days where we're feeling overwhelmed.

What does that look like to you? What does it feel like? What does your body feel like? What does your mind feel like? What are you thinking? What type of situations bring those feelings about? And then those conversations about, now how can you get back to zero or closer to it? And allowing the students to reflect on their own personal ways where they can help to self regulate their emotions.

And then [00:16:00] Spreading on to that classroom community. Well, we didn't get students to student yet, so I'll wait. We were just doing the student to teacher.

Ross Romano: Sure yeah yeah student to student, sure, how

Dr Joy: Okay, so then with the student to student, it's recognizing that, you know, as a classroom community, we're here to support each other in those times when we feel overwhelmed within our challenges, and sharing some of those strategies that we use together, and not feeling like, well, this kid is weird because he's going off and like screaming in the corner, or I'm going to look at this Kid and laugh and joke at him or make, you know, react a certain way because he's doing that.

But now I'm understanding that he's having a hard time. This is how we, he displays it and you know, we're gonna work together as a classroom community to show empathy and love for that student. Because I have a hard time too, and I've also seen my parents have a hard time . And so, you know, and my parents say, I see my children have a hard time.[00:17:00]

It's. Helmet, I think the most, I enjoy every part of this program, of course. As a parent, it touches my heart the most because I was never taught this as a parent, having young children, how important the way I responded and my emotions were. And when you give parents a space to talk about that in a non judgmental way, Just the experiences, the tears, the laughter.

It just all comes out because we recognize that we're all going through this. No one gave us a book on how to manage your emotions with your kids. I mean, I'm sure there are books out there, but when we had children, we never imagined. Some of the things that we would have to juggle emotionally speaking.

And so that's to me has the whole process of it is rewarding, but that to me touches my heart. I think the most because you see the pieces coming [00:18:00] together. So what the back to zero program looks like is I'll usually do a read aloud with the students and then the The teachers will get professional development, and then the parents will get a workshop.

So oftentimes, like, when I'm doing a parent workshop, I'll see students come behind their parents with the book, like, oh yeah, she was, you know, giving us the read aloud, and they'll even have conversations, like, I do get overwhelmed at school with math sometimes, or I do feel, you know, stressed out about this.

They just relate to it, and it's just a way for us to really sit back and. think, you know what, I see you and you see me and we're all going through it and we're all here to help each other. And I think it just makes it easier to navigate the day when you don't feel like you're the only one.

Ross Romano: Yeah. Yeah. And to that point teacher parent, teacher conversations, you know, and especially how can teachers be proactive [00:19:00] in engaging parents in these conversations, letting them know what's happening, what goals they're working toward, right. Just getting them more involved so that then parents can.

And continue that work at home, but also feel feel like they're being intentionally engaged in the process.

Dr Joy: I think that communication piece, but the back to zero is what's made it so effective because parents can recognize, okay, Let me check my emotions as I'm advocating for my child, and that may open up a nice door to speaking, having a productive conversation with the teacher, because now I'm able to think clearly, to be calm, and to go in a conversation with strategies to help.

My, my child navigate the day and the same thing with teachers. Now I'm able to really look and document behaviors and not take it so personally that this child responded a certain way. So now that conversation with that parent [00:20:00] is more effective because I'm coming from. A sense of empathy and not a lot.

I'm taking this personally because I've had time to reflect on my responses to challenges. And so I think when we're all working on it, we can see the work working in our communication with each other.

Ross Romano: Are there advice for parents to then carry on those conversations with their child and sort of, you know, obviously it's, it has to kind of continue, right, at home and be supported and also, you know, depending on the age of the student, I mean, sometimes regardless of the age. But you're going to see. There are different sides to the child's personality and behavior that may show up at home versus at school versus in other places

There may be different things that You're trying to sort of understand and talk through and determine the causes and how to [00:21:00] support it.

Dr Joy: Yes. And you know, it is, it's different because even my own children, my son and daughter were so different. You know, my daughter, I met, I meet her teachers at open house, and I'll meet them again at graduation. You know, with my son, it was constant communication with the school and recognizing that they were different and recognizing that As a parent, I had to take responsibility for how I responded, how I followed up, like I had to do the work, you know, like I had to really put the work in, and learn a lot and just listen to my child, you had to be like a really good listener, I had to practice those things at home, our whole family, like back to zero is something that we say to each other, Like as a family, you know, it's work, everyone in the family just, and then having grace with yourself when things all don't go perfectly, you know what I mean, just being able [00:22:00] to say, you know, this wasn't the best day, but we just keep moving forward.

But it is ongoing work. And so the advice is you is that you have to put in the work and that it's never ending. And, you know, communication is ongoing. And you have to be a good listener. And you have to accept, you have to be able to accept the work. So if you recognize something in yourself, recognize something in your child, you just have to be able to accept it and work from it.

And not feel ashamed about it. So many times we feel ashamed. And I think that's what makes us defensive. A lot of times when we're communicating, so it's not feeling ashamed about it, knowing that you're not the only one and keeping that communication going. But you have to put the work in. You have to put the work in for yourself and you have to put your work, the work in for your children.

Ross Romano: On the,

Dr Joy: start small. I'm sorry, small steps. Always give parents small, like, things to think about that they do throughout the [00:23:00] day. Self awareness is so important. And just I usually give them like eight things that I say, and it, that connects to them, like small shifts that they can make throughout the day, like taking those pauses, watching what you, watching the first thing you say out of your mouth in a challenge.

What is your first initial response? You know, so things that you can reflect upon and then be honest with yourself about the changes you need to make.

Ross Romano: you know, yeah, and then in the classroom, are there kind of whole class activities that teachers can do to work on this?

Dr Joy: Sure. I definitely think about like, Like giving students a read aloud, any read aloud that connects to self awareness and emotions from the beginning, not when something happens, but that's part of your like We are a community. First day, we all have challenges. We're going to talk about [00:24:00] this like first day, like not waiting for the counselor to come in to do it.

It's something that you do as a teacher from day one, you know, talking about how In this classroom community, we are all going to have challenges. These are the challenges we might face, allowing students to talk in pairs and groups about challenges that they face, how they react to their emotions and how they respond.

Things that make them feel like they're reaching a level 10. And I have so many resources on my website, joyworkedu. com. Just like bookmarks that teachers can use and reflection sheets that teachers can use that are very tangible ways and user friendly ways to start a, enter a conversation with students and the classroom community about.

You're managing your emotions. Also, in the back of the book back to Xero, there's classroom activities and discussion questions that a teacher can use.

Ross Romano: Yeah. Do you have [00:25:00] a message, a takeaway for teachers for whom this maybe doesn't come naturally?

Dr Joy: Oh, yes, because it didn't come naturally to me. You know, it, I don't think it, it comes naturally to, to so many of us because we just move and, you know, we were taught, we think, And I tell you what the biggest reason I think it is, because we're the adult, we're the big people, they're the child, and if we're not able to get it under control, there's something wrong with us. I think the main thing is to not be hard on yourself, give yourself some grace, and You know, and take your time, you know, and enter this as a process where you're working on it little by little, you know, it's not something that's going to be, it's going to happen overnight. It's just a part of your reflection about who you are at a challenge start small.[00:26:00]

How did you start with something small like, what do I feel like what kind of situations I always say three questions. What kind of situations. make me feel like I'm going to reach a level 10. They're all different for everyone. So maybe something small like that, you're just, you just write down in your classroom, what kind of situations just make you feel like you're at a level 10?

Just be honest with yourself. You don't have to share with anybody. And then the second question can be, how does my mind and body feel Before I reach that 10, what are the stages? What do I feel like? You know, some of those physical changes that you feel when you're getting tense or, you know, your body feels different.

Your palms are sweaty. How does your mind feel? What does your mind go? What are you saying to yourself? What are you thinking to yourself? And then it's what could I do in a situation? What is something that does relax me? How could I get back to a 10 or even closer to it? When I'm in one of these situations.

So I would say those are three questions [00:27:00] that anybody can start with. They don't have to share with anyone. It's just their way of reflecting on themselves in a challenging situation.

Ross Romano: Wonderful. Well, listeners, you can find Back to Zero and more about Dr. Joy's other work and her other books at joyworkedu. com. What else can people check out on your website or anywhere else they can learn about your work?

Dr Joy: Sure. My website really has everything up there. I'm on Twitter at JoyWorkEDU. Everything is at JoyWorkEDU. I also have a podcast, JoyWorks Conversations About Joy, that I started in February. It was something that I wanted to do just to connect with different educators about their joy journey.

So, I've been doing that and that's like my new product that I absolutely love. And yeah, you can find everything on my website and yes, just. I'm always just finding ways to connect with educators and continue this joint work because I think it's important for everyone, but I especially think it's important for us because we're cultivating [00:28:00] minds.

Ross Romano: Yes, totally. Awesome. So yeah, everybody check that out. Joyworkedu. com. We'll put the link below. We'll put the link to Dr. Joy's social media and her full bio so you can learn more about her work, and you can go and find it all. Please do also subscribe to The Authority for more in depth author interviews like this one, and visit bpodcast.

network to learn about all of our 30 plus shows. Across the education spectrum, I'm sure there's something new for you there. Dr. Joy, thanks so much for being on The Authority.

Dr Joy: Thank you.

Creators and Guests

Ross Romano
Ross Romano
Co-founder of Be Podcast Network and CEO of September Strategies. Strategist, consultant, and performance coach.
Dr. Joy
Dr. Joy
Educator, Author, Speaker. Believer in the power of joy. Creating my own lane. Minding my own little joyful business. #joyworkedu #BacktoZero
Back to Zero with Dr. Joy – The Authority 77