Thomas Edison was an incredibly smart man. He said some incredibly smart things about inspiration. Two of my favorite quotes are “to have a great idea, have a lot of them”; and “to invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.”
I read those quotes from a man who gave us so much. He speaks with passion and with such fortitude that it is just inspiring. That’s what teachers need to be. We need to be inspiring to our children. When we are inspiring our children feed off it. So in this post, I thought I would pose some ways we teachers can be inspiring. Let me know if you agree or disagree. Also, if you have any you think would be a great addition to this list let me know.
1. Have a classroom that is positive:
Your classroom should be a place free of bullying, and it should be a place where students can express themselves without worry of condemnation from other students. When your classroom is an open arena for creativity and the sharing of thoughts you can inspire your students to discuss, debate, and create ideas that can become a great project or presentation.
By removing the fear of ridicule, you allow students to be open. They can brainstorm ideas, ask and answer questions that may have several right answers.
Inspire your students to be accepting of each other and to be a positive member of the class.
2. Allow students to be creative:
Allowing your students to be creative is important. It gives them something to think about and be challenged. I love to give my students a problem or an issue where they have to create something, or come up with a solution. When I do this, they have to come together, and agree on a solution. When we come together as a whole group, and each small group discusses their answers they see that each group came up with a different answer. Which then leads to more discussions and possibly more solutions.
Inspire your students to be creative, and look for multiple solutions.
3. Be authentic
When you show your students that you are human, and they connect with you, you can inspire them. Students know when someone is real or fake with them. Be real. Show your students the things you struggle with, and allow them to see that they aren’t the only ones who struggle with things in life. Show some emotions when you are teaching. When students are presenting and they did a great job show it! Don’t be afraid.
One thing that I heard when I became a teacher is, “don’t let them see you smile before Christmas.” I think that is stupid. I like to meet my students at the door and greet them with a smile and sometimes a handshake or a thumbs up or a fist-bump. I want them to know that I am excited to have them in my class for the day.
Inspire your students to be authentic with each other to be real friends.
4. Be an encourager
One of my jobs as a gifted intervention specialist is to encourage my students to think on their own. To think and to hypothesize issues and problems is an every day occurence in my class. If it is one of those times where my students are struggling to come up with a solution I sit with them and encourage them to re-look over the details. I encourage them to work as a group (if they are working in a group), or ask their neighbor for help if they are working by themselves. I don’t call that cheating. I call it asking for help. That’s a real life skill. It’s what adults do when they are stuck with something…they ask for help.
One thing that I tell my students all the time is that life has problems. You will always be facing problems in your personal life and professional life. It’s how you find the solution to those problems that will allow you to life a happy life. One simple thing I tell my students is to give a kind work to some one. When they are struggling, encourage them. There is always a solution to problems; be creative while finding the solution.
Inspire your students to be an encourager. Saying a kind word to some one can go along way.
5. Set goals…
In my class we set goals. I always try to make sure we start out the year with some simple goals just so that we as a class can have success. I think it is easier to build of off success that it is failure. But, sometimes that isn’t the case. Some of my students are goal driven, and they get very disappointed when we don’t meet our goal. For example, I have a goal that we would have 10 of 12 students turn in their work on time and done neatly before they were to ride the bus back to their home school. Sometimes we meet that goal and sometimes we didn’t. Boy, did I hear about it when we didn’t. So being the teacher that I am, I told my students that they should encourage other students to work harder, and give them some tips that works for them.
I stress to my students that failure is ok. A lot of my students don’t like to fail. Sometimes these students feel as if the world will end if they don’t succeed. I tell them often of the story of Abraham Lincoln’s failures. My students ask often what did he fail at he was the 16th President. So I found this quote below on a poster, and I keep it to read to them.
“He failed in business in ’31. He was defeated for state legislator in ’32.He tried another business in ’33. It failed. His fiancée died in ’35. He had a nervous breakdown in ’36. In ’43 he ran for congress and was defeated. He tried again in ’48 and was defeated again. He tried running for the Senate in ’55. He lost.The next year he ran for Vice President and lost. In ’59 he ran for the Senate again and was defeated. In 1860, the man who signed his name A. Lincoln, was elected the 16th President of the United States. The difference between history’s boldest accomplishments and its most staggering failures is often, simply, the diligent will to persevere.”
So I tell them aim for their goals. They will not always meet them, but they will have something to strive for.
Inspire your students to get high goals, and strive to meet them. Remind them that failure is not the end, but the beginning of a path that leads to success.