I teach

I found this graphic on Pinterest, it would be a great poster or t-shirt for any teacher.  It links back to http://www.blissfulroots.com/2012/12/teacher-gifts.html

 Teacher Quote

 

 

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Day 7: RT – teaching inspiration

Who was or is your most inspirational colleague, and why?

Oh wow, this is a thinker.  When I think of inspiration I think teachers I had as a student.  I suppose technically they can be called colleagues as they were still teaching when I first began but as for teachers I have worked with that’s a bit harder.

Ok first those teachers that inspire me:

Mrs. Bachert 5-8 Communication Arts and yearbook advisor: Mrs. Bachert genuinely cared about us.  She was willing to be a real person with us.  She teased us, allowed us to tease her as long as it was appropriate.  I loved reading and writing anyway but there had been times in the past that I didn’t enjoy doing it in class as she made it fun however.

Mrs. Williams – Modern American History freshman year.  Mrs. Sally Hunter-Williams was passionate about her subject area.  She really wanted us to learn from history.  She was strict on behavior, attendance, and tardies.  I was in the door one day when the bell rang but not in my seat and got a detention, that might make some students angry but for me it was just a sign of her high expectations.  She had them for all of her students and there was no wriggling out of them.  She made me want to try harder.

Mrs. Harris – English 1 (Honors English 1) freshman year:  Mrs. Harris singled me out in a good way early on in the year.  She thought I could do the Honors English work though I was only in the regular English class.  She took it upon herself to go to the other teachers and counselors to rearrange my schedule and that of two other students so that we could be in the same class.  Once that was accomplished she taught the three of us what the rest of the class learned along with an extra curriculum to help us earn honors credit.  She went out of her way for me and I’ve never forgotten that.

Mr. Hopkins – Honors English 2, sophomore year: Mr. Hopkins struck me as an enthusiastic teacher from the start.  I loved his “No Hunting” sign at the front of his room.  He explained the first day that his room was a safe zone.  We should all be allowed to feel comfortable to share our work.  We journaled every day and he always asked for volunteers to share.  This was not something I would normally do but in his class I became willing to raise my hand because I knew whatever I shared would be accepted by my classmates and even if they didn’t like it or thought it was dumb they’d never say a word, it wouldn’t be allowed.  The district at the time had a yearly Creative Writing workshop for students in the CW classes at the high schools.  Our CW classes were a bit smaller that year, so the teacher came to Mr. H and asked him if there were any students from his class he thought might enjoy the workshop. He suggested me, and it was a great experience.  I then cadet taught for Mr. H my senior year, he let me teach a few classes and then gave me great feedback.  Honestly he is the first person I think of when I’m stuck, I ask myself “What would Mr. Hopkins do?”

Dr. Berger – AP English senior year: Oh Dr. B, may he rest in peace, was one of the most passionate teachers I’ve ever had.  He really cared about the books we read.  He was dramatic, raising and lowering his voice, making up words (every car had dual exhaust and zitzenflingers, yeah even today that word makes me just grin), he didn’t hesitate to use voices, you simply couldn’t tune out in his class.  Think Robin Williams character in Dead Poets Society and you have the passion level of Dr. B.  He gave the address at our baccalaureate that year and I ordered the yearbook supplement solely so I could have a copy of it.

Hmmm it really should come as no surprise that I ended up teaching com arts, as most of my teaching inspirations are English teachers, even Mrs. Williams moved to the English dept after I had her.

As for teachers I’ve worked with, honestly I’d say any special education teacher is an inspiration.  It’s one thing for me to work with these students one on one but to work with them in groups, to work so hard to help them grow and learn and then see it lost due to external circumstances and they just keep going.  It’s amazing to me.  Wow this has turned out to be my longest answer yet.

My Inspiration Wall

So in my classroom posts I showed this picture of my inspiration wall behind my desk:

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Many of these posters are ones that I’ve made of famous quotes or poems.  There’s Haim Ginott’s frightening conclusion, Lilian Katz’s caring about everyone’s children, Only a Teacher, I Am a Teacher, What Teachers Make, What You Focus On, The Starfish Pin, and 100 years from now.  Hmm two of those I haven’t posted about previously, guess I need to do that.  There is also a page of random quotes.

This wall also contains notes and other things I’ve gotten from students.  I love to look over and see these and they love that I put them on the wall.

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Along with these notes, I have one a student wrote on a post-it and stuck it inside my general plans noteboook.  I’ve left it there, it always makes me smile when I see it.

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I really think every teacher should have an inspiration wall or board or something somewhere in their room.  It can be refreshing to take just a minute or two to look those things over, especially all those great notes and pics from students.

Something all teachers should take to heart and mind

I think the first time I came across this quote from Haim Ginott, teacher, child psychologist, psychotherapist, parent educator, author of several books, was probably in college.  I’m pretty sure we even discussed it, but it’s always a good reminder to read it again, especially on those days when I am stressed or upset just one reason why it is exactly in my eyeline behind my monitor. I can look up to read it any time and I frequently do.

 

I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom.  It’s my personal approach that creates the climate.  It’s my daily mood that makes the weather.  As a teacher I possess the tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous.  I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration.  I can humiliate or heal.  In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or dehumanized.

 

Read that again and just think about it for a minute, take in the sheer amount of power a teacher has over the life of a child.  Nowhere is this more evident than in the book Th1rteen R3asons Why by Jay Asher.  I won’t give away much of the story but Hannah is a teenager who has come to the end of her rope, she is depressed and can see no reason to go on, before she commits suicide she makes cassette tapes and list of the 13 reason why, thirteen people, one of whom was her English teacher and counselor who she spoke to about her feelings and concerns about something that happened to her, if you want to know what it is you’ll have to read it sorry.  The teacher in essence tells her he can’t help her, when she leaves he lets her go knowing she is suicidal.  I just can’t even imagine!  Totally reprehensible!  Yes, I know this is fiction but it is a great example of the impact a teacher can have on a student.

 

I try to be mindful of my behavior and my attitude.  Kids come in the door grinning and if I’m grouchy and snap at them I can take the joy right out of their day, instead I make a concerted effort to take a deep breath and take in their happiness, let go of whatever it is that’s bothering me.  Those little smiles and hugs make such a difference in my day so why wouldn’t my attitude make a difference in theirs.  The same applies at home, keep that in mind, I will!

 

 

Only a Teacher

Today I’m sharing yet another one of the poems I have on my Teacher Inspiration wall.  This one is by Dr. Ivan Fitzwater

 

Only a Teacher

I am a teacher!

What I do and say are being absorbed by young minds

who echo those images across the ages.

My lessons will be immortal,

affecting people yet unborn,

people I will never see or know.

The future of the world is in my classroom today-

a future with the potential for good or bad.

The pliable minds of tomorrow’s leaders will be molded

either artistically or grotesquely by what I do.

 

Several future presidents are learning from me today-

so are the great writers of the next decades

and so are the so-called ordinary people

who make the decisions in a democracy.

I must never forget these same people

could be the thieves and murderers of the future.

 

Only a teacher.

Thank God I have a calling to the greatest

profession of all.

I must be vigilant every day

lest I lose one fragile opportunity

to improve tomorrow.

 

I Am a Teacher

This poem by Stacey Bonino is on my wall of inspiration by my desk.  I’m not sure it even lists everything a teacher does but it’s pretty good list.

I Am a Teacher

I am a counselor and psychologist to a problem-filled child,

I am a police officer that controls a child gone wild.

I am a travel agent scheduling our trips for the year,

I am a confidante that wipes a crying child’s tear.

I am a banker collecting money for a ton of different things,

I am a librarian showing adventures that a storybook brings.

I am a custodian that has to clean certain little messes,

I am a psychic that learns to know all that everybody only guesses.

I am a photographer keeping pictures of a child’s yearly growth,

When mother and father are gone for the day, I become both.

I am a doctor that detects when a child is feeling sick,

I am a politician that must know the laws and recognize a trick.

I am a party planner for holidays to celebrate with all,

I am a decorator of a room, filling every wall.

I am a news reporter updating on our nation’s current events,

I am a detective solving small mysteries and ending all suspense.

I am a clown and comedian that makes the children laugh,

I am a dietician assuring they have lunch or from mine I give them half.

When we seem to stray from values, I become a preacher,

But I’m proud to have to be these people because …

I’m proud to say, “I am a teacher.”

 

What Teachers Make

Short post today but sometimes as we all know the saying “good things come in short packages”, ok so I altered the saying just a bit but it still makes sense.  This is a short post but I think it’s powerful.   You’ll have to tell me what you think.  If you are an educator and somehow have never seen this video you need to watch it.  If you know a teacher share this with them.  I first saw this video several years ago at an all district meeting.  Our superintendent had seen the video and wanted to share it with us, unfortunately he didn’t realize the version he found to share was a bit school inappropriate at the end.  For your viewing here is the “explicit” version and the clean version, here’s the text of the poem from Taylor Mali’s website, it does contain the explicit words but you can remove it should you want to print it, and finally here’s the poem in comic strip form (also explicit).  I know I’ll be adding it to my wall of inspiration.  Every time I watch this video I end up in tears and cheering, hopefully it will inspire you just as much.  Like I said at the beginning this is a short post I know but there’s really nothing to do but let the words speak for themselves!