A long time ago I noticed something when I looked in the mirror. Devoid of any effort to smile, I looked unhappy, concerned, troubled, and a person to avoid. Hard to accept when you consider yourself a “people person” and you expound on the value of relationships and connecting with others. In that moment I realized I needed to change how people could perceive me with something that was readily in my control – a smile. It takes practice if that’s not your normal state. No one wants to see a forced smile through gritted teeth, or a maniacal grin. But here’s what else I noticed. When my mouth smiled, so did my eyes (stop reading here and go try it with your mirror). I instantly became more approachable.
In our profession as educators, we encounter many situations where we can reduce tension or fear by simply having a warm, inviting smile. As author William Arthur Ward reminds us, “a warm smile is the universal language of kindness.” I’d like to propose that we all practice this important skill and remember to do it every day, and especially when we’re in the company of our students. Go ahead get on a grinning streak. It will improve your face value and generate benefits well beyond that.