How to make your first-day excitement last all year.
Starting a new school year is so exciting! Refreshed and ready to go, full of new ideas and goals, I love starting the year on a high note. But inevitably, as day-to-day stresses of life take over, the feeling fades. How can we regularly bring back that first-day energy?
A few years ago, one of my colleagues mentioned that she was going to add something to her Smile File. I had no idea what she was talking about. She explained that it’s a place to keep all the things that make you smile and can lift your spirits when you’re having a bad day. Since then, I’ve kept a smile file in my email and a physical one in my filing cabinet for notes and things that I can look back on when I need a little pick-me-up.
Among the things I’ve saved, I have an email from my manager from my first day on the job; an April Fool’s joke that was emailed to me years ago that still makes me laugh; a postcard from a former student when he walked el Camino de Santiago; and emails where I received positive feedback from parents, students, and administrators. You can put whatever you want in your smile file. I’m sure each of us has our own quirks that bring us joy that no one else would understand.
The year I learned about smile files didn’t turn out to be a very good year for me, and I referred to my smile file quite a bit. I was able to look at the mementos I saved as a reminder of my value to others, of the fact that I made—and continued to make—a difference.
Since the school year usually starts off with a lot of positive energy, it’s a great time to start a smile file if you don’t already have one. I’ll admit that I don’t add every positive note I get to the file and that on most days, I forget I even have it. But there are those days when I notice the folder name on the side of my email and I browse a few emails or get up and look at old notes and cards I have stored away. It invariably brightens my mood and helps shift my perspective from my current situation.
If you have a smile file, take a moment to look at it and reminisce about the people and times that made you smile when you received those notes, emails, etc.
If you don’t have one yet, take some time to reflect on things you would put in there or try to predict what your first items in your smile file will be!
Mike taught Spanish and French for 16 years before joining Carnegie Learning. He's from Philadelphia and taught at the elementary, middle, and high school levels and in both public and private school settings. He loves to travel and was fortunate to be able to take students abroad for many years. He also worked as a scoring leader for the Praxis French exam as an AP Spanish Language reader. As a Content Specialist, he is able to work with teachers and also help develop educational content materials for Carnegie Learning world language programs. He has presented at many regional and national conferences, including NECTFL, CSCTFL, and ACTFL.Explore more related to this author