A simple smile changes your entire classroom
By Susan Jerrell, TOFT Founder
“A smile remains the most inexpensive gift I (you) can bestow on anyone and yet its powers can vanquish kingdoms.”– Og Mandino
I might add that the power of a smile can also influence the entire day for you and the students in your classroom. It is a simple, free act that can be a game changer.
The science behind your smile
Research shows us that smiling can have health benefits. Lovely little chemicals are released when you smile that affect your body. Neuropeptides help fight off stress. Not only do dopamine, endorphins and serotonin help your body to relax, they can also lower your heart rate and blood pressure as well as help relieve pain.
Emotionally, a smile has benefits as well. Serotonin helps lift your mood. It puts you in a better mood, but that smile is also contagious to others. People who are around someone who smiles are more likely to smile themselves.Think about a baby. Do you know what happens when you smile at them? They smile back! Now imagine a classroom full of smiles simply because you smiled first!
While 200 smiles a day is recommended, sadly, on average women smile 62 times while men only smile eight times a day. Yet, people who smile are often thought of as more confident, more successful and more sure of themselves. People who smile appear more attractive to others according to a 2013 study. And smiling has the power to make others feel happy and loved.
With all of those benefits, imagine what they can do in your classroom
Ways a smile can change your classroom
A smile welcomes students
No matter what kind of day you are having, greet each student at your door with a smile. You really can win them over with a smile. It makes them feel better about being there.
I learned this when a high schooler told me one day, “I look forward to coming to your class because I know I am always going to get a smile.” You better believe I made a point to give every student a smile after that comment.
Smiling helps you stay positive
There are those days when everything is going wrong. The kids seem out of control; your plans are not working; the copier is broken; your car is hit in the parking lot. It happens to all of us, but how you approach the time in your classroom makes all the difference. Put a smile on your face and exude positivity or the bad day will rub off onto your students. When you let that happen, your day goes from bad to worse.
A smile cultivates classroom culture
Make your classroom a smile zone. My classroom was a drama free, whine free zone, but it was also a smile zone. How you approach the day is a signal to your students of how they should approach theirs. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to spend my day surrounded by negativity and frowns!
A smile ensures acceptance and love
If your students are anything like mine, they come from diverse backgrounds and many of those are dark places. Many come to school beaten down and feeling bad about themselves and their lives. Your classroom can be the one bright spot in their day.
As teachers, we cannot control their home lives, but we have complete control of their experiences in our classrooms. If the power of a smile can have all the physical and emotional benefits listed at the top of the article, imagine the impact it can have on the young people in our classroom. Your smile can give them the acceptance and love they so desperately need.
That is a lot of power in one simple smile. For some people, smiling comes easier than it does for others. If you are a teacher who smiles easily, keep it up. If smiling takes effort, remember that it is worth it.
The benefits to you and your students will result in more happiness and less stress which will translate into more productivity and an overall better attitude. Smiling is a simple, yet high impact way to pass on positivity to others.