So a good friend of mine, and an outstanding teacher leader at our school, Nick Haywood, started our 2nd semester full faculty meeting a couple of weeks ago with a reminder about the power and importance of “connection before content” in our daily interactions with kids. It was a beautiful message and It resonated deeply with all of us, and It got me thinking yet again about the marvelously contagious qualities of a smile, or an attitude, and how a person’s mood can directly impact the lives of others around them. There have been so many interesting studies conducted over the years which highlight the magic and power of a single smile, and I love that something so seemingly simple and effortless can inspire, affect, and set the tone of a person’s day.
As you all know by now, I’m a staunch school climate and culture guy, and I believe strongly that the positive ethos of a faculty is the cornerstone of any great school. I also believe that a huge part of that strong foundation is built upon who we are as people, not just educators, and the strengthening of that strong foundation can often depend on the simplest of things, like a smile. You see, a smile breaks down barriers, it diffuses tense or contentious situations, it fosters positive intent, and it inspires a student’s or colleague’s perception of who you are and how you feel about them.
One of my favorite all-time song lyrics comes from Crosby, Stills, and Nash’s, “Wooden Ships”, which goes, “if you smile at me I will understand, because that is something everybody, everywhere does in the same language”, and that rings particularly true for our diverse international school environment. When you start the day with a smile you positively affect an entire class of kids, and their day, and their approach to learning. Your smile is contagious, and if you take a moment at the beginning of every school day to really look around you, with your eyes truly open, then you’ll see that it’s almost impossible to not smile at something.
I love to start my days greeting the kids as they come to school in the mornings, and I love to watch their faces light up when they see their friends. It makes me smile when they wish me good morning and react to the goofy comments that I make as they pass me by. Our students are such beautiful young people for our world, and glorious works in progress, who are trying their best to find their way, and if that doesn’t inspire you or make you smile then I don’t know what will.
With that in mind, you should know that we had a few prospective family tours this past week, and I made a point of asking them how they enjoyed their experience touring through the school. Every single one of them, both kids and parents alike, commented on how friendly and happy everyone seemed to be, and that made me so proud to know that the environment that we’ve all created here together is one of smiles, happiness, support, and kindness. I want to make it clear to everyone that I’m writing this week about smiles NOT because I feel like we are lacking in this area, but because I really want to celebrate how pervasive the smiles seem to be all throughout our community.
I want to thank you for the positive attitudes that you bring to work everyday, and for the effort that you’re all making to give our beautiful kids happy and healthy experiences. Our moods and our attitudes really are infectious, and so are the smiles that we share, and the absolute truth is that a student’s relationship with school and their approach to learning is directly related to, and affected by, the way that we interact with them every single day… connection before content indeed.
So keep smiling everyone, and keep searching for those silver linings. The silver linings that make it easy to find joy in our daily lives, and the ones that put those bright smiles on our faces. It’s been a great start to 2024 so let’s keep focused on the positive moments that are easily and readily found in each and every school day, and look for inspiration in the beauty that’s all around us all the time. It’s in the faces and hearts of our kids that’s for sure, and if you take a second or two to look around, I guarantee that you’ll find a smile or ten that will make your day, and remind you of why you love to teach. Remember, smiles are contagious and their power is truly immense, and even just one little smile can change a person’s day for the better…and yours too! Have a great week everyone and remember to be great for our kids and good to each other.
Quote of the Week –
If you smile at me, I will understand, as that is something everybody, everywhere does in the same language – Crosby, Still and Nash
Related Articles –
Inspiring Videos –
TED Talk – The Hidden Power of Smiling