Back to School with a Smile
Right now, the blog world is saturated with good advice for getting the 2011-2012 school year started on a positive note. Links to a few of the best are on this page to the left. After more than ten years as a retired teacher, I still feel a tinge of jealousy thinking of all the teachers who are awaiting their new groups of youngsters. I remember the anticipation well. I also remember those people who didn’t share the joy.
Every year without fail, somebody would warn, “Don’t smile. Let them know who’s boss right away.” Christmas break was usually the cut-off date. After that, smiling might be okay.
These fuddy-duddies are still around. So here’s my back-to-school advice:
Stay away from the dagger-face people. Their theory is seriously flawed!
One principal, who was a member of this group, managed to frightened me a couple of times into thinking the frown technique might have merit, but my efforts to comply lasted about 20 seconds. I quickly reverted and smiled at every student. I even laughed in front of the whole group, for heaven’s sake. Did my kids run wild the rest of the year?
If you are a natural-born smiler, then the first day of school is a perfect time to be yourself. Smiling is more than just a method for recouping one's investment in expensive braces. It also boosts the immune system, lowers blood pressure, reduces stress, and gives others a positive perception of your inner self. Furthermore, smiles are infectious. If you are so afflicted, your students will catch it from you. Instead of paper smiley faces taped to your classroom walls, you will have real ones sitting at every desk.
Why not make smiling this year’s back-to-school theme? Great Clean Jokes offers a large collection of kid appropriate humor. Use this resource to create a "Finish the Joke" bulletin board or an “I have. Who Has” game. Sneak an unexpected corny joke or two into some of your lessons. Once they learn that their teacher is humorously adept and unpredictable, students tend to be more attentive.
Sixth, seventh, and eighth graders (maybe even some fourth and fifth graders) will enjoy my free Back-to-School Sense of Humor Test, a collection of quips and misspeaks from actors, politicians, comedians, and Yogi Berra. Students can actually test their senses of humor by guessing the correct endings to the given information or, for the more cautious, the internet has the answers.
In the meantime, wouldn’t it be nice if every school had a naughty corner where the adult grumpies could be sent to sit and scowl at each other from the first day of school until Christmas? Makes me smile just thinking about it.