CONNECTING INSPIRATION TO “TIMELESS” EDUCATIONAL PRACTICES
It’s been my joy and privilege to serve education for nearly 20 years as an author and consultant of effective practices to use with standards, assessment, curriculum, and instruction. I love seeing PK-12 educators and leaders across the country experience “lightbulb moments” while going through the Common Formative Assessments 2.0 and Teacher Clarity workshops I created for Corwin.
As important as these “timeless practices” continue to be, I’m now bringing a new—and vitally important—connection to my ongoing work with educators: inspiration.
The word “inspiration” comes to us from the Latin verb, inspirare, meaning “to breathe into”. In Middle English, it signified, “divine guidance.”
Inspired teachers—those who know why they teach and are motivated by that passionate purpose to help their students succeed—can effectively impact student learning even more than they may realize. How?—by infusing heart-felt inspiration into their teaching practices. When teachers apply research-based practices in an inspired way, they are interweaving heart and mind. A powerful combination that cannot help but improve student learning dramatically!
THE CURSE OF THE CONSCIENTIOUS
Teaching is a very tough job. I know; I was a classroom teacher for 24 years. For the conscientious teacher who cares, it’s a job that’s never done. You’re always aware of more that needs doing, always thinking about your “kids” and what else you can do for them.
And sometimes you drive yourself crazy. It’s what I call the “curse of the conscientious”. The positive aspect of this is that you care deeply, which is noble and pure. But because you care, the downside is you bear the weight of that concern every single day.
Teachers need support, mentally and emotionally, to continually keep giving of themselves and to keep going day after day—no matter how they may be feeling or what they might be dealing with in their personal lives.
Knowing the effects all of this can have on our nation’s dedicated teachers, I hope this post will:
- Remind you about why you are an educator
- Ignite and renew your passion, commitment, and enthusiasm
- “Refill your well” of hope and resilience so you can “keep on keeping on!”
“I TOUCH THE FUTURE: I TEACH”
I chose as the title of this post the inspiring words of Christa McAuliffe, the astronaut- teacher who perished in the Challenger space shuttle explosion in 1986. Christa touched our entire nation and left a lasting legacy of inspiration with her now-famous words, “I touch the future; I teach.” She had personally realized the lasting impact teachers have on their students.
I subtitled this post, “Teaching as Selfless Service”. To me, service is the essence of what teaching is all about. Selfless service means giving without thought of receiving anything in return. You give simply for the joy of giving; it brings its own reward.
SERVICE: “UNSELFISH SELFISHNESS”
If one’s motive is right, service can be thought of as a kind of “unselfish selfishness”. These two words may at first seem contradictory. How can unselfishness also be selfish? When I teach, I do so because I like it! It makes me feel good—especially when I see the positive effect it has on my students—whether children or adults. The inward satisfaction this brings is the best kind of gratification—the gift that keeps on giving!
When I serve others unselfishly, I’m happy. When I don’t serve in that way, I’m not happy—it’s as simple as that. Understanding this has changed my life.
This quote about selfless service by Yogananda, the father of yoga in the West, has inspired me throughout my education career: