It’s the first week of term and I’m seeing quite a few nervous faces amongst both pupils and staff! I always feel anxious at the beginning of the school term. It’s a pretty traumatic time for teachers, especially ones who have had exam classes. Even though there may have been big successes, inevitably there are always students who don’t achieve their potential and questions to be answered. Parents, pupils, managers and senior staff can all come knocking, asking awkward questions and, in some cases, getting rather heated. And the trouble is that teachers like me can get defensive and become demoralised. It’s easy to lose confidence.
I’m going to work hard this year not to become demoralised — or complacent. I’ve become increasingly convinced that maintaining a positive attitude and smiling is the key. There’s quite a bit of evidence that smiling, even though you might feel miserable, has a positive effect upon your mood. In fact, I’m convinced that smiling possibly has a much bigger influence upon a child and teacher’s achievements at school than many other things. A smiling child is usually a happy child and a happy child remains confident when they don’t understand something or encounter a problem; such a pupil is more up for problem-solving and learning fundamentally. The classic self-help book, How To Win Friends and Influence People, cites smiling as one of the most important things you can do if you want to be successful in life.
I thought this quote was good from the book: “You don’t feel like smiling? Then what? Two things. First, force yourself to smile. If you are alone, force yourself to whistle or hum a tune or sing. Act as if you were already happy, and that will tend to make you happy. Here is the way the psychologist and philosopher William James put it: “Action seems to follow feeling, but really action and feeling go together; and by regulating the action, which is under the more direct control of the will, we can indirectly regulate the feeling, which is not.”
Smiling is also infectious. I reckon that if you’re worried that your child is doing poorly at school you could do much worse than smile at them consciously and regularly. I bet it would have more positive effect than making them do extra work every night.