4 Ways to Help Teachers Inspire Students
I believe in educators. I believe in their power to impact students not only in learning content but also in their attitudes about themselves as learners. Inspired educators produce inspired learners. We are inspired when who we are, connects directly with what we do.
I wanted to learn more about what inspires teachers. What is their why for teaching, what inspires their passion? How does this passion infuse into their lessons and create meaningful and lasting relationships and enduring understanding? For every teacher, their source of inspiration is different. Over the winter break, I sat down with one of these inspirational teachers and asked her to put into words her why in the hopes of unlocking for others this inspired way of teaching.
She is a middle school teacher with an infectious spirit and a zest for life. She has an infectious laugh and a unique ability to pull you into her entertaining and heartfelt stories. I remember such a story about her first triathlon. She recalls looking back at the starting line feeling totally overwhelmed and under-prepared. She connected the story to the lives of many of our students, feeling overwhelmed and lacking confidence in their academic abilities. She drew me in with her humor and relatability and masterfully connected her metaphor with ways to support students in the classroom.
Over dinner, she told me that her source of inspiration is the drive to communicate to students their worth and to make them believe in their abilities as students. She told me another story. This time it was about her as a middle school student and the moment she was made to believe that she was a capable student. When the teacher praised her as a writer. This connection was clear to me. She is an English Language Arts teacher and if she can write stories like she can tell them, well then, of course, she is a writer.
I was taken aback. Here in front of me sits a strong, driven, inspired educator. I could not imagine her as a middle school student doubting herself as a student. At that moment, I understood her why. She wants to inspire students the way she was inspired and let me tell you, this teacher can inspire students.
We exchanged student success stories late into the evening. We lost complete track of time. We laughed, we cried and we connected. Then I realized that this is what she does with her students. She is vulnerable and open. She lets them know her for who she truly is. She tells them stories about her life and relates her experiences to her students. They know her, they trust her and she inspires them.
She wants students to know they won’t always feel the way they do in middle school. Their lives will change and so can their trajectory. I came across this quote and it seems to fit this teacher.
“My teacher thought I was smarter than I was – so I was.” ~A Sixth Grader
Here is what I learned about Inspiration that night:
Bring Your Passion into the Classroom
This teacher is known to do high kicks in the classroom. She is loud and happy and talks about how much she loves her job. She gets excited about lessons and spends time carefully planning engaging lessons. Her passion is teaching and her students know it.
Build Relationships Through Connection
How can you relate to your students? Do you understand their struggles and their triumphs? Listen to them. Ask them about their lives. This teacher does an activity every year asking her students what the teacher needs to know about them. They open up and tell her their stories allowing her to support them and understand how they learn best.
Understand Your Source of Inspiration
This teacher wants students to see themselves as learners. She wants them to know that not only does she believe in them, but she has high expectations for them. Knowing that is what inspires her, she is able to see success, which keeps her inspired.
Share Your Stories
This teacher is a storyteller. By sharing her story, students feel connected to her. They are able to relate to her and it encourages relationships. She not only shares her stories as a source of inspiration, but she shares the stories of others (literature) and makes them relatable in the classroom.
Are there people that you speak with that when you leave the room you just feel better? They lift you up and fill your cup and you can’t really explain why? Would you like to be that person? I had dinner with a person like this. I truly left inspired.
If you want to inspire these types of connections on your campus, please CLICK HERE to download a free activity that I wrote to help you communicate these ideals to your staff.
Instructional Coach, TEEN TRUTH