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The domino effect.

The inspiration for today’s post comes from Dr. Andrea Dinardo who I follow fervently.

In my second year of teaching I was assigned to a behavioural class, which was composed of nineteen students, ages sixteen to nineteen.  Recognizing early on that this class would need a special approach, I developed something I called:  Mrs. K’s Challenge.

Mrs. K’s Challenge was an idea that I would present to my students, have them implement for a certain amount of time, and then journal about.    I hoped that by trying new things, the students would gain more confidence, as most of them lacked self-esteem.

One challenge was to make a small change to their daily routine, such as to wake up ten minutes earlier each day, or to make a point of talking to someone new each day, or anything else that they thought might make a difference.

The results of this challenge were more than I could have expected.  Several students woke up earlier and reported having time for breakfast, which seemed to help their day run more smoothly.

One student said he decided to eat lunch with a different person everyday and had made a new friend.

The most striking story came from a young man I will call Shea.  Shea was an ESL student (English as a Second Language) who had emigrated from Southeast Asia.  He was a large boy: solid with a neck like a bull.  He liked to wear tank tops which showcased his muscles, and touted heavy gold chains and menacing tattoos.  Shea had the countenance of a storm about to unfurl.  He seldom spoke above a growl and I had never seen him smile.

When I asked the class if anyone would like to share what they did to change things up, to my delight, Shea raised his hand.

“I decided to smile at everybody that passed in me halls,” he declared proudly.  “And you know what?  People actually started talking to me.”

Turns out Shea’s intimidating persona was just a cover.

A smile is a powerful thing!

Thriving Under Pressure

IMG_1419

Smile like you’re changing the world. Because you are. 🌸

We often think of changing of the world as some great big, grand gesture. Performed on stage with millions of people watching. When in fact it’s just you and me (and 7 billion others). Smiling, connecting, caring, and loving. Every moment. Every encounter. We are the dominos.

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Categories: education inspiration nonfiction psychology

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V.J. Knutson

Writer, avid reader, former educator, and proud grandmother, currently experiencing life through the lens of ME/CFS. Words are, and always have been, a lifeline. Some of the best adventures, I'm discovering, take place in the imagination.

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