I was honored when +Todd Nesloney asked me to write a guest blog for #KidsDeserveIt. The following post is what I wrote, which was originally published on Kids Deserve It.
Recently I interviewed for a new principal position. During the interview, one question that I vividly remember being asked is something along the lines of, “What would we see when we walk into your elementary school?”
Great question. What would you see? I would hope that when someone walks into my school, they will see lots of things going on. They would see: innovation, communication, relationships, learning, student work, cultures and diversity not only recognized but celebrated, people taking risks, people failing, people trying again, people working together, students doing, teachers guiding, people having fun.
But what I hope they witness first, and what I hope they witness most frequently is really quite simple. It’s easy, anyone can do it; babies are born with the ability to do it. It’s free; there is no program and/or training attached to this initiative, it doesn’t cost anyone anything.
In my elementary school, when you walk in the doors, hopefully you’ll see people smiling. Lots of people smiling.
Smiling is easier to do than frowning. The simple act of smiling is proven to boost your immediate mood, as well as contribute to a stronger immune system and overall good health. Your body releases endorphins when you smile, which is a natural stress reliever. Smiles are contagious. Wearing a smile is the most simple way to boost one’s appearance. Smiling is the universal sign of happiness.
I expect this despite the fact that our work as educators is challenging, hard, and at times very stressful. Despite this, we must realize and continuously remember that we are working with kids! We have to be aware that the children we are working with spend more time with us, Monday through Friday than they spend with their parents (usually). We have to understand that kids are looking to us for guidance; they are looking at us to see what is and isn't acceptable. We have to model what we expect, which means we have to remember to smile.
This modeling, smiling, starts at the top. It starts with me. I have to choose my attitude and model a smile if that is what I am expecting from teachers and hoping for students. So I was ecstatic when a student wrote the following note to me, “You are happy all the time.” Wow! Make my day. I’m not happy all-of-the-time. I get upset. I have things that cause me stress. But I try (really hard) to leave that stuff at the door. I abide by the philosophy of ‘fake it ‘til you make it.’
Why? Because kids deserve to be surrounded by happiness. As educators, a big part of our job is to create an environment where students enjoy coming so that their learning can be maximized. This is our obligation. In order to create a happy environment, we have to be happy. In order to be happy, we have to smile.
Who would you rather spend your time with? Who would you rather your children spend their time? We all have circumstances that cause us distress. But we all, also, have a choice. Choose to smile. #KidsDeserveIt