Don’t smile until Christmas!
That was the advice I ( as I am sure many other NQTs are) was given before starting my first year as a teacher.
Let’s just take a moment to think about that… Don’t smile until Christmas…. what! Why would I not smile? And til Christmas…. that’s a whole term away, a third of the entire school year and to be honest I came into this profession because I love what I do and funny enough things I love tend to make me smile.
So where does this crazy idea come from? I’m going to share a few statements I think contribute to this idea…
You can’t be the children’s friend if you want them to respect you.
Now I’m not saying you should be a ‘friend’ to all the children but come on respect and friendship are not mutually exclusive or inclusive. The idea of being a friend to all the children is hard because ultimately you you have to bring in the boundaries. But…. and it is a huge but… you have to spend a lot of time with these little (or slightly bigger) people… why would you not like to be ‘friends’ with them… friends in the way you care about them, you want to know what they’ve been up to and what they like doing and you genuinely want them to be their best self. Now I don’t know about you but that sounds like a type of friendship to me. Maybe not in the most literal sense but still… I imagine your children will have so much more respect for you if you show an interest in them.
Children can’t learn without behaviour boundaries.
True, children need boundaries. In fact, children crave boundaries. Especially those who don’t get them at home. But not smiling and boundaries do not come hand in hand. Children don’t need sternness, they need consistency. Consistency is safe and children that feel safe can learn. They need to know that you will follow up on poor behaviour in a fair, calm way but they also need to know that you will be there with a smile when they do something great and most importantly when they just need someone to brighten up their day.
Smiling makes you seem like a pushover.
No, no and no…. smiling makes you seem like a kind, friendly person. It shows you are enjoying what you do and why shouldn’t you be enjoying what you do? And more importantly it shows that you are happy and happy teacher equals happy children (for the most part). Happy children learn better and that’s our ultimate goal right?
So… come this Autumn term whether your an NQT starting with your first class, an experienced teacher heading back to a new set of children or an out of class SLT member… smile at each other, smile at parents and most importantly smile at your children… it will change your day and theirs for the better.