November 15, 2021

I underestimated the joy I would feel as I walked through recess these past two days and saw so many smiling faces.

While masks have been – and still are – an obvious necessity in today’s world, there is so much meaning in being able to see one another’s faces as we chat, play, and adventure together outdoors. Facial expressions hold such power over our social understandings and interactions. The grin that is delivered after a sarcastic comment has been hidden, and is now able to communicate a playful nature. The smiles given to cheer up a student who seems down, and the playful smirks during sports games have been long missed on the playground.

It is human nature – and human necessity – to read people’s faces to understand how they’re feeling. For the students to be able to fully smile at one another while they play, show their shock and excitement during an awesome move in a game, or exchange knowing glances when they have a shared idea is a recess game-changer.

The energy that was buzzing about outdoors this week took me by surprise in the happiest of ways, and reminded me of the power of a simple – and visible – smile. We know that everyone is on their own journey when it comes to comfort with their masks, and even those students who opted to keep their masks on were part of the energy surge this week. They were all so happy to see each other while playing, and I truly believe that the ability to better see one another will lead to even more meaningful connections between peers.

Raising Digital Natives
Experiential Learning in Science