“A teacher who is attempting to teach without inspiring the pupil to learn is hammering on a cold iron.” Horace Mann
This quote was the prelude to a chapter in Teach Like a Pirate, by Dave Burgess. First of all, do you know Horace Mann? I had to look him up myself. Afterwards, in my guilt, I surveyed everyone in my path to find out they didn’t know either. To sum up a ton of quick Google searches…….HE WAS A CHAMPION FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION. His vision was for a public education for everyone. A child of poverty, he overcame and knew where the fruits of hard work, dedication, and motivation could take him.
Now back to the cold iron mentioned above. We have all been there. Sometimes those objectives are just uninspiring. Sometimes the stress of the weight of the day gets in the way. Sometimes the negativity of others drags us down. Sometimes we find ourselves just bored. Everyone’s “ten” day varies from day to day. This has an impact on our students. Parents send their best child every day to school, and it is our obligation to bring our best selves. Our best self is an inspiring one.
A teacher said to me recently, “I need some pizzazz in my classroom.” She had great intentions, but pizzazz is not what we need. Glitter falls and fades away. Inspiration is reaching into the mind and heart of each child and igniting a fire of motivation.
“Marsha, I know this, but how do I get out of this rut?” – This has been asked so many times. We’ve all had the champion speech. But here are some quick tips to just try to prime your ability to inspire again.
- Connect with your students. – This always helps me calibrate and remember why I am in the building. When you connect with them, you will learn about their interests and needs. This will come in handy when making their experiences relevant to them. I always enjoyed a home visit to really connect with my students and families. If you really want to be brave, give your students an anonymous survey to find room for improvement. Giving students voice after connection is so important.
- Try something new. – Think of one thing you would like to improve in your classroom. Find the current research and experiment with new techniques and approaches. This year, my “new” was the app SeeSaw. This app is initially delivered as a digital portfolio, but has become so much more for my students. By using this mindtool, my students get to experience real live digital citizenship. They also get to be captains of the products of their thinking to showcase in their learning community. When you try something new, you are modeling for your students what we all want to see in a lifelong learner.
- Find two friends. – Two? Yes. The first friend is going to be someone that inspires you to be a better human. Find that person who really gets your thoughts turning. Bounce ideas off of them and ask them about their professional triumphs. The other friend is some one who could use a little lifting up themselves. I have found my best inspiration and motivation through intentionally seeking others to help. Servant leadership is not easy, but it is the most rewarding. I also feel that it brings about the richest results.
- Increase your PLN (Professional Learning Network). – Prior to about a month ago, I thought twitter was dead. I used it during the occasional professional development to post a reflection. It was also used rarely to post cool stuff about our school. I had NO IDEA how helpful Twitter could be. As a tech teacher, I use it to learn about current technologies and see how others are using them in the classroom. Most importantly, I have made new friends around the world who inspire me to be greater for children and humanity. THIS HAS HAD THE GREATEST IMPACT ON MY YEAR AS A PROFESSIONAL. I suggest a few of these hashtags to search and get started based on motivating educational books I’ve read recently: #innovatorsmindset #tlap #kidsdeserveit #Leadlap
- Remember you are already a champion! – Yes, this is true. Remember that eager teacher on the first day of school. You are still that person. Unleash the beginning teacher in you and empower those children. Show them that to stay relevant, we must continue to learn and change. Don’t beat yourself up, and try to find a little fun on the way. You may discover that you have been inspiring others all along.
Horace Mann was a champion. You are a champion. Inspire your students to be champions. Now that we all now know the legacy of Horace Mann, I leave you with some of his final recorded words.
“I beseech you to treasure up in your hearts these my parting words: Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.” – Horace Mann