Create a Smile File

in , , by Stephanie, February 08, 2021

When I first started teaching, I was given some pretty terrific advice to keep a notebook of all the wonderful, amazing and hilarious things my students said so I could reflect on them later and celebrate my experiences in the classroom. 

Unfortunately, I didn’t take that advice. 

I regret that. That’s why I’ve kept a collection of the heartfelt comments, reflections and thanks I’ve received from the teachers I work with instead. It’s not a physical notebook, but a digital collection of emails, a shoebox of cards and notes and sticky notes capturing comments I wanted to hold onto. 

I’ve never given that collection a name other than nice-things-teachers-say-that-I-don’t-want-to-forget, but when Heather Fisher called hers a Smile File, I knew that was exactly what I created, too. 

I keep my Smile File for a few reasons: to make up for not keeping a Smile File celebrating my students, to lift my spirits when I need a pick-me-up and to archive my coaching when it clearly went well. This collection fuels me, makes me feel warm and tingly inside and brings me immense appreciation for the teachers who took the time to make me feel valued.

It’s an instant mindset boost, which is why you need to create a Smile File, too. A Smile File can take multiple forms: a shoebox of cards, printed emails and sticky notes; a Google Doc filled with pictures and pasted text; a notebook of jottings and noticings or a combination of all of the above. Choose a method that works for you and suits your personality. 

Next comes the fun part! Start collecting all of the positive vibes you encounter throughout your days:

  • Save thankful or appreciative emails. 
  • Write down things teachers and students say that make you feel good. 
  • Save cards and notes you’ve been given.
  • Take pictures of successful coaching experiences. 
  • Gather motivating quotes that lift your coaching spirits.

These collections become treasured artifacts of the connections you’ve made with teachers and remind you that you are, indeed, making a difference, even on the days that have been challenging. And here’s the best part: You find what you are looking for. You become more accustomed to seeking out the good and find a great deal more of it, too. That’s the true power of a Smile File. So, why not take it a step further and share the idea with your teachers? Encourage teachers to start a Smile File, as I wish I did, and give them the supplies they need to do it. You might be surprised how it changes what teachers look for, too. 

So, what are you waiting for?! Go create one and share your comments below!

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