(The second post in my back-to-school series)
Don’t smile til’ Christmas.
That was the first bit of advice given to me by my mentor teacher* nearly 20 years ago.
Set the tone early.
It’s easier to ease up than get more strict.
Let them know you mean business.
Imagine if the only way we could establish culture in our classroom was to not smile? How inhuman is that?
Fifty-five percent of communication is non-verbal. Knowing that, I can’t accept that the majority of communication with students needs to be smile-less. Till Christmas? No way.
My advice to all new teachers: smile early, smile often. Let your students know that your classroom is a positive place to be. A warm place. A welcoming place. A learning-focused culture, one that includes hard work and high expectations can still be set, but one doesn’t have to eliminate half of their emotional arsenal to do so. Having interviewed hundreds of teaching candidates, I can tell you that personality and determining the right “match” are a large part of the hiring process. There is no doubt that you were hired because of the human you are, be sure to let your students experience that. I know that I want my children to know you are real people.
But kids, you have a responsibility too. You have to know that your teachers are human. They are moody. They smile. They laugh. They get angry. They sometimes are not in a good way. They make mistakes. Just like you.
On their bad days, they don’t have it out for you. They definitely don’t hate you. They’re having a bad day. Come back tomorrow, they’ll be smiling again.
They’re human. Just like you.
*This person also told me, “I have 21 years experience. 9 more and I’m outta here!” I told myself that day that I didn’t ever want to be trapped in my job. Perhaps that’s why I’ve done so many different jobs in education.