• Lindsay Mangold

One Sentence Smile

Many days, it's hard to see the forest through the trees.

In my adult life, I have started vacationing in Maine. There, we sleep in a tent, hike every day, and eat as many lobster rolls as we can get our hands on. On these hikes, I have come to understand the meaning of "seeing the forest through the trees."

For me, I need to be at the very top before I can gaze holistically at the forest. As I march up the unrelenting angle, I see the trees. Each and every tree seems like a mini finish line... just make it there... just make it there... While in the grind of a difficult hike, I have a hard time appreciating the magic of the forest. When I reach a small but scenic look out or the summit of the mountain, the magic becomes clear. Sore muscles are silent and my pounding heart sits back in my chest as I breathe in the sweeping forest. It was worth it and I am rejuvenated by its beauty.

School can feel like a hike. That same unrelenting push can make weeks feel long where every day just feels like a checkpoint... just make it there... just make it there... Today, we want to offer you a strategy to help in times like these. When you are laboring through a difficult hike.

During my student teaching placement, I was young, novice, and startled by the difficulty of some of my days. Back then, I came up with a way to help me cope with the weight of this feeling. I started a journal where I tried to use only one sentence to capture a moment that made me smile that day. I always loved journaling, but was exhausted by the end of my student teaching days. Capturing it all wound me up and added to my workload. That's why one sentence did the trick. It forced me to look for times that I may not have seen as clearly with my exhausted and troubled school day eyes. During the day, I became more of aware of these moments to capture and, therefore, spent more time smiling. I saw the forest of ambitious, adorable, and capable students beyond the difficulties of the day.

There are many ways you can manage this same strategy. Keeping a journal is great, but you can also have a google doc on your phone, create a bulletin board in your faculty room, text it to a teacher friend, or simply just take the moment to reflect each day. What made you smile? What tickled or surprised you? Who is amazing?

Today... see the forest.

Here's a picture of me and my partner. Believe me, I was only seeing trees at the time.

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