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  • Robert Dunlop

Happiness Dotmocracy

Today I want to share with you one of my favorite teaching activities to use in the class. I have adapted this activity to help educators reconnect with what brings them the most happiness in education. If you have not heard of a DotMocracy, you will love it. Basically, you post pieces of papers around a room with different words on each paper. Then you give out a certain amount of dots. I like using these, but you can use anything you would like, even bingo dabbers. Now you ask that the dots are all distributed on to the papers around the room based on the questions. There is no limitation on how few or many dots you can put on a piece of page.

Let me use the Happiness in Education Dotmocracy as an example. When I run workshops I post 15 pieces of paper with different aspects of teaching on them. For instance, teaching lessons, planning great lessons, making an impact, professional development, etc... Then I hand out 30 RED dots to each participant and ask them to place the dots on the aspect of teaching that brought them the most joy when they started teaching. Then we discuss which aspects had the most and least dots and why.

Then I give out 30 BLUE dots and ask the participant to place those dots on the aspects of teaching that bring them the most amount of happiness at this point in their career. Then we spend time comparing the number of dots on each page. Often this leads to many discussions and helps educators realize how some of their focus has shifted throughout their careers. Of all the activities that I do, this activity has created the most ahah moments for educators.

If we do not stop to think about it and reflect, we can often change so slowly over time that we do not realize we have changed. We can move away from things that brought us into the profession and that help us to love our jobs.

Although this activity is very effective in groups, it can also be done independently. I have create a digital version of this activity on Google Slides if you would like to try it. Just go to Once you have distributed both your red and blue dots, take time to self reflect and ask yourself what has changed and if these changes are helping you find more happiness or taking away from your happiness in the profession.

I have adapted this activity many different ways in the classroom and students love it. Perhaps ask them at the beginning of the year what aspects of school they enjoyed the most in past years and have them post red dots. Then at the end of the year, repost this dotmocracy and have them add their blue dots signifying what they enjoyed the most this year. This could generate a great discussion around the type of year the students had as a whole!

I love this activity because you are physically assessing the aspects of education that bring you joy. It gets you thinking of what you have done in the past and what you can do in the future that will keep you passionate or reignite your flame. Try it, you will love it!

Thanks for joining us, and remember to Strive for happiness in Education, you deserve it!

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