Amanda Steeley, Special Education Teacher (also, mom)
This morning was no different than any other hurried school day morning: My husband, two daughters, and I raced around the house tripping over each other to get ready and get out the door. Our four-year-old was particularly demanding, I couldn’t find my keys, and our six-year-old wanted so badly to wear her favorite dress that desperately needed to be ironed.
By 6:50 AM we had all made it to the driveway and my husband pulled out in his car with our youngest daughter. I blew them a kiss, smiled, and waved as they drove away.
And then I caught a glimpse of myself reflected in my car window. Oh my! I did not look happy. Even though I felt like I was smiling and waving at them as they drove off, my reflection spoke otherwise.
I tell my students that if they smile when working on a challenging problem, it will be easier. I learned this when I was in high school, going to week-long summer dance camps where I had to learn multiple routines in a short period of time. Smile, our coaches advised. You’ll learn more.
There are so many reasons to smile bigger. Whether you want to appear more approachable, show someone you care, or simply allow yourself the grace of learning more, I urge you to smile bigger today…. (even if it feels a little awkward at first.)
Never underestimate the power of a handshake. Often it’s the first thing we do when we are introduced to new people. It delivers first impressions. A good handshake can start conversations and promote trust between two people. Researchers from the University of Illinois Beckman Institute found that a good handshake promotes confidence and trustworthiness. The study found that a good, firm handshake actually leads to positive feelings.
Do you teach confidence and trust in your classroom?
In our classroom, our 5th graders greet us with a handshake every morning. It’s a great way to start the day and gives us the opportunity to teach our students how to respectfully greet someone. During the first week of implementation, our students found it a little awkward and students were apprehensive. Over time, students understood the importance of greeting their teachers each morning. In fact, they enjoyed it and often looked forward to the handshake. Our morning greeting became a ritual. Students felt comfortable starting conversations and they opened up to us. The handshake laid the framework for trust and confidence between us and our students. Now when guests walk into our classroom, our students are not afraid to greet them. Our guests feel more welcome and open to talking to our students. The handshake breaks the first barrier of communication and allows the conversation to flourish.
Recently, I saw a video of a teacher that hand a personalized handshake for every student he taught. I thought this was a brilliant idea. This teacher found a way to build relationships with his students through a handshake. I am confident that this teacher has a strong bond of trust with his students.
Build trust and confidence with your students. Start the morning with a good handshake.