When I am working with preservice teachers, we talk a lot about the importance of asking questions. We develop interaction patterns we want to work toward and talk about how we can use student comments to ask our next question rather than blindly plow through our list of questions. To do this well requires a tremendous amount of thought…tremendous.
What do people look like when they are thinking?
Imagine the tilted head, eyes up, scrunched up mouth, and wrinkled nose. The face people make when they are thinking looks somewhat painful. Yet, we know that non-verbal behaviors impact student engagement. The “thinking face” is not what we are after.
So, one of the things my students and I work on during practicum is developing a habit of smiling while thinking. It feels disingenuous at first, but at some point the irony of the smile-while-engaged-in-deep-thought struck me and I’ve always been able to conjure up a smile in those frustrating moments.
Thinking is important, but don’t forget to smile.