WATCH | Teacher brings cheer on day dubbed most depressing of the year

21 January 2019 - 13:03 By Nonkululeko Njilo

Zuleka Smit, a teacher at Paarl Boys’ Primary School, has gone the extra mile to make her class feel special. Instead of the usual “Good morning class” scenario every day, she lets her learners choose how they want to greet her, from fist bumps to high fives, and even a dance-off.

While January 21 is considered to be the most depressing day of the year, a video of a teacher from Paarl Boys’ Primary School cheering up her learners by greeting them with high fives and hugs has gone viral for all the right reasons. 

Zuleka Smit, who has been a teacher for 15 years, said she did not think a video shared by the school on its Facebook page would take off as it had. It received 662,000 shares within a week.

"I do this with my kids every day and they love it. I honestly did not think it would go viral like this."  

 The children, aged between five and six, have eight options on how to greet their teacher, depicted on a poster at the entrance to the classroom.

A high five, hug, dance, elbow hello, fist pump, handshake, smiling and pinky shake are the ways in which the learners can choose to greet.   

"We have so much fun every morning and it sets up such a nice atmosphere before starting with the lessons. If all teachers implemented such exercises, they would love their jobs even more,” she said  on Monday.

"They come in every day and greet me however they choose. There’s a child that would give a high five almost every day and one day would just decide to give a hug. In some cases you would find that they are feeling a bit sad or something had happened, and I can console them," she said.

Asked how the idea came about, Smit said during her holidays she always tried to find ways to build a relationship with her learners. 

It is also more than just a cheerful exercise between teacher and pupils.

Smit explained: "They don’t only feel unique, but important and confident, so that they are not even afraid to say when they do not understand something, which is what I want."

Her example would also avert any risk of people feeling blue, putting paid to the proposition by a UK psychologist that the third Monday of a new year is the most depressing day of the year. 

Dr Cliff Arnall used an algorithm more than a decade ago to pinpoint this day on a calendar, taking into account factors such as financial debt after the holidays and New Year’s resolutions that have already failed for some. But maybe all it takes is a high five and a smile to debunk this claim?