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Thursday, December 9, 2010


So today I am at home with alternating ice & hot packs on my face.

I am suffering from SEF.

Those in the teaching profession are at high risk for the painful SEF syndrome:
  Smiling Encouraging Face.

Smiling Encouraging Face is completely different Professional Face (PF.)  PF is a happy enthusiastic face that I wear for short periods of time and usually the PF either genuinely reflects the fun I'm having or it can actually generate a sense of fun for real.

On the other hand, I have to wear Smiling Encouraging Face for 5-6 hours at a time.  I use this face when sitting through a series of presentations given by nervous students.  I have to look encouraging, friendly, interested and engaged in whatever they are demonstrating.  I totally understand that presenting to a group of people can be nerve-racking, and even more so if the language you are presenting in is not your own.  So SEF gives them assurance in the way that a light house reminds anxious ships that land is nearby.

But while sometimes PF can be hard to maintain (it does involve an eye smile as well,) the SEF is an absolute labor of love: the sheer endurance factor has my face aching after the first hour.  I've even taken Advil because my aching cheeks feel as though they have single-handedly each pushed a Prowler.  Uphill.  In the Snow. To Canada.

This semester is complicated because after sitting with SEF through 6 hours of presentations, I have a 2 hour break before teaching a dance class that requires a mix of PF and SEF.  During that afternoon break, I let my face pass out into an utterly expressionless coma.

By the time I get home uber-late after the dance class,  my lips feel like rubber, my eyes are jammed back into my cerebrum, and my cheeks are like individual face migraines.

However, the presentations are now over and I'll be giving final exams:
It would be pretty creepy if I were smiling and nodding while watching students working on tests.  So I get to look just as blank as they do.

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