Back to school season is expensive, but one thing that’s free is a smile.

Studies show a smile makes life better.  Smiling puts your brain in a very different space. Teaching is hard. I often say it’s like playing dodge ball but I’m the one in the middle and everyone’s throwing baseballs.

There are a million requirements, and anyone who thinks “teaching” is actually teaching has never been on the long side of a faculty meeting. There are more regulations than ever before, and you have to keep on top of all of them–everything from testing to standards, to red tape to blue markers… it’s all you.

And that’s why you must smile.

The only thing that truly matters is that kid sitting in front of you wondering, “Is Mr or Mrs So and So going to be nice today?”


I am.

On the first day of school, I faced down a bunch of kids in my class, all of whom reported they were not excited about school.

I told jokes, built upon their prior knowledge, told them I hated the textbook, and suggested some learning goals–but encouraged them to make a list of anything I left off the syllabus since I want the material to benefit them. I want them to use it.

“I don’t give a lot of homework, but I might ask you to finish something up, or research something so we can have a good discussion…” I said, “And if you’re not having fun, you need to come see me and tell me why and what we should do about it.”

I smiled even bigger–an “I mean it” smile, not a fake smile. They smiled back.

I don’t care if you’re teaching or climbing the fast food chain until you make your millions. Your job is to bring joy to others in any situation life gives you. In mine, it’s teaching. In yours, it might be putting an extra special flourish on a customer’s product so they feel special.

Every day is a chance for me to turn someone’s day from bad to good, and I don’t need to reach into my pocket to do it. I only need a smile, and care about the person standing in front of me.

When your day, week, or year gets tough, remember that. Dig deep for that smile, and let the space around you shine. There’s enough grumpiness in schools and education at large. “It’s my job to bring joy.” I say that regularly.

If that’s the credo you live by, I guarantee you, when you’re the one who’s down and out having a rough patch or a really bad day, you’ll have spread enough job that when you need one most, someone will have a day-changing smile for you.


Photo Credit: Hoang Vy