One of my students asked me the funniest question during our morning meeting this week. She stopped, looked at me and asked, “Why are your eyebrows grumpy?” It struck me as really funny and I burst out laughing and she did as well. I went home that evening and began to think more about her question. At the time that she asked me the question, I was talking about an exciting trip that was coming up for our class. My voice was animated and I thought I was conveying my excitement through the words that I was choosing but upon deeper reflection I am not sure my facial expression was matching my words.
One of the real gifts that my students bring to the school and the class is their ability to read emotion. Many of the students are very sensitive to the expression on my face, in my voice and in my body. They laugh with me often and can easily tell when I am upset with them by a simple look or a body position. The great thing about this is that I rarely have to use my voice to intervene on unwanted behaviour and I can show someone what a great job they are doing by a simple look. The tricky part of this is that my facial expressions are being analyzed all day long. As a person doing this job for the first time, I am often perplexed or thinking about next steps. When I was talking about the upcoming trip with the class, I was also thinking about all the logistics of how to make this trip successful. I am sure that is why my student thought my eyebrows were grumpy.
Working with this group of students has been a fantastic reminder to slow down, stay in the moment and enjoy the experience. Things will get done. I will make mistakes and learn from them. I will get better at this job every day.
My talented students will forever teach me the skill that the author Toni Morrison spoke about. Toni Morrison explained that children don’t care about weather you help them zip up their jacket or have everything prepared. They care about one thing ….“Does your face light up when a child enters the room?” She also encouraged all of us to “let your face speak what is in your heart.” My students are reminding me of Ms. Morrison’s important lessons everyday. Slow down. Stay present in the moment. Let them see everyday how much you care for them.