It’s the Very Least We Can Do

The comment keeps showing up on my end of year surveys, slipped in between suggestions, hard truths, and great advice.  It makes me smile every time.  It has been a comment I have heard throughout the year from students in blog posts, in small conversations, and even from parents.  “Mrs. Ripp smiles a lot…” “You always have a smile on your face…” “You smile every day.”  And while it is not true, I don’t think I smile every single day for every minute, this little comment means the world to me because every day I make a choice to smile.  Every day, when I pull up to the parking lot, when I open the days, when the crazy noise of the students coming up our stairs reaches my door, I make sure I have a smile ready to greet them because it is the very least I can do.

As educators, we spend so much time planning meticulous lessons.  We do professional development to continue to be lifelong learners.  We lay awake worrying about kids, about parents, about what we said, what we asked our students to do that day.  We spend so much energy on the big picture stuff that we forget about the easiest thing we can do; smile.  Show all the kids of your school that you really want to be there.  That it matters to you that they are there.  That you are happy to see them.  That their very existence makes your life better.  Even if you don’t totally feel it.  Even if you don’t feel like it.  If you can’t do it for yourself, then do it for the kids.

Our actions speak louder than our words and you wouldn’t believe how much the sight of a smile in a busy hallway can change the mood of a day.  But don’t take my word for it; try it.  Make it a habit.  Smile as if your life depended on it, who knows, whose life it will change?

I am a passionate teacher in Oregon, Wisconsin, USA but originally from Denmark,  who has taught 4th, 5th, and 7th grade.  Proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children.  The second edition of my first book Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students” is available for pre-order now.   Second book“Empowered Schools, Empowered Students – Creating Connected and Invested Learners” is out now from Corwin Press.  Join our Passionate Learners community on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.

2 thoughts on “It’s the Very Least We Can Do

  1. Indeed we must love our life as a teacher. I like having the Summer off to explore other interests. It makes me a better teacher. I have been teaching for 32 years and every year I think do I want to do something else. No I love my job. My students keep me young and happy. I was thrilled when my only child chose to go into teaching. Unlike his mom who loves working with elementary students he wants to inspire middle and high school students to think like a scientist. He sees life experiences as an experiment ready to explore. I use Skype in the classroom and the Global Read Aloud Project to kick off each year with the students at my school reaching out to their world to discuss literature.

  2. Thank you for reminding me to smile. I don’t think that I have given nearly enough smiles lately.
    I read about a retired teacher who was asked what she would have changed if she could have and her reply, “I wish I had smiled more.”

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