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Lessons Learned From Great Educators: Keeping Kids First Edition

Mary Beth Hertz tagged me recently in a blog post where she highlighted some of the most influential educators in her life. What an inspiration read! She had been previously tagged by Shelly Terrell, and I encourage you to check out her post as well. I believe we learn so much about those we admire from their teachers. So here goes… my edition of Lessons Learned from Great Educators.

My Grandmother, Ellen Wade:

I could write a book as to why my grandmother is my greatest teacher. I miss her every day and wish so much that I could sit with her to absorb her zest for life, her loving and kind heart and her spunk.  She was smart, kind and creative. She was generous, loving and fearless. She taught me to value people, relationships and kindness over all things. She inspired me through her own actions to set goals, thrive on challenges and keep pushing for more. She wanted to own her own business, so she did. She wanted to write a children’s book. She wrote and published three. She wanted to give her dog a spoonful of ice cream every night. I would have dared you to stop her. I hope someday people say about me, with a smile on their faces, “I would have dared you to stop her.”

My Students, 1999-present:

My students have taught me to keep my sorrows and struggles in perspective. They’ve reminded me that it’s ok to giggle at silly things and just let it go. These hundreds of third through sixth graders have shown me over the years that the learning cannot stop – no matter what. They bring to life the need for authentic learning and lively experiences. When I get to help a student experience something new for the first time, like riding an escalator, seeing a highway with more than4 lanes or visiting a movie theater and ordering popcorn, I am reminded to keep a fresh and bright perspective on life. Their stories of pain and struggle can fill my heart with the deepest sorrow and make me rush to my own little boys’ classrooms to pull them out for a hug. Yet, the joy they experience at successes and accomplishments and moments of pride can create the greatest emotional rush for me as well. I live and breathe through my students and my own children. They are my greatest teachers.

As a side note, I started this blog post a week ago – the day Mary Beth tagged me. I started putting things down, ideas were streaming through my head, and then I stopped. Could I think of just one or two people? Then I had a hard time thinking of a “traditional” teacher – someone in a classroom. This has proven to be a difficult post for me to write because I amazed myself to discover that I don’t really have a classroom teacher that inspired me. Don’t get me wrong, I had some good teachers. One or two I would even call great, but they didn’t “get” me. I made straight A’s but I didn’t try. I didn’t have connections to what I was learning, but I did have a knack for remembering random information after only hearing it once. I haven’t truly uncovered my own pure, unadulterated love of acquiring and applying new information until the past few years. I have thought a lot on this challenge for several days, and it’s somewhat disturbing to me now as a teacher. If I made it through 13 years of grade school and 4 years of college without a teacher that I really latched on to, one who I could look back on as a deep rooted inspiration, what would have happened to me if I hadn’t had other teachers in my life? What if I hadn’t been self-motivated, way too stubborn and a bit rotten for my own good? It would be unrealistic of me to think that I am a life-long inspiration to the kids that sit in my classroom today. I just hope they have at least one person who makes them want to strive to be a greater version of themselves.


11 Responses

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kelly Hines, Deven Black. Deven Black said: RT @kellyhines: Lessons Learned From Great Educators: Keeping Kids First Edition (http://bit.ly/8HACwM) […]

  2. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by kellyhines: Lessons Learned From Great Educators: Keeping Kids First Edition (http://bit.ly/8HACwM) Inspired by @shellyterrell @mbhertz @spedteacher…

  3. Wow, that’s pretty sad that you cannot think of one teacher that inspired you. Even those of us who “got it without trying” should have somebody who inspired them. I’m glad that your students will never have to say that.

  4. Thanks for taking up the challenge, Kelly!

    You make a great point about your innate self-motivation. I, too, am highly self-motivated, and can only name two teachers who I really remember. What I remember more are the experiences that led me to where I am now.

    It is so wonderful how you are so connected to your students. I think we, as adults, forget that sometimes little ones can teach us a lot through their learning experiences and their unfiltered view of the world.

  5. Kelly,
    I am so relieved to hear you say you didn’t have any “traditional” teachers that inspired you. I too would have a difficult time naming any. I thought maybe it was me. Why do other people remember their teachers so well, with such passion? On the other hand, I too have had many “other” people who pushed me to be a better me. Many times it was just someone who came into my life at a time when I really needed it most. Kudos to you! I dare someone to try and stop you.

  6. Hey Kelly, you are not alone. I also cannot think of a single truly inspirational teacher, although there are several I remember with great fondness. My true inspirations have been other people in my life, and some I have met on Twitter ;-).

    Anyway, what is an inspirational teacher? Someone who helps you believe in yourself. If you are a stubborn, self-willed pain like you and me, we don’t need inspirational classroom teachers. But sounds like your kids do, and you are there for them.

  7. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



  8. I am a student at the University of South Alabama and I have been assigned to follow your blog for the next three weeks for Dr. Strange’s EDM 310 class. I was very impressed with this post that I just read. The goal for teachers is to be inspirational, and not just be another teacher. The teaching profession is about reaching children and positively impacting their lives. Thanks and I’m looking forward to your next post.

    Carl Herring

  9. Mrs. Hines,

    I am in Dr. Strange’s EDM 310 class at the University of South Alabama. I recently watched the video of the skype conversation you had with one of our classes. Your advice and thoughts through that conversation and your blog has greatly helped me. I thoroughly have enjoyed following you, and I agree that it is important to inspire our students. I too hope that I can reach my students and help them realize their full potential. I am extremely excited to be a teacher, and I cannot wait for all the experiences I will encounter. While I have had 2-3 teachers that have inspired me, my grandmother and mother are the two people in my life that have always encouraged to do whatever I want. Through their encouragement, I have grown as a person, and I am able to motivate myself and work towards my dreams. Thanks for being a teacher who truly cares and is willing to share and help others.


    Jamie Lynn Miller

  10. GnuQHh nice suggestion

  11. That is really interesting, You’re an overly professional
    blogger. I have joined your rss feed and sit up for in quest of extra of your
    excellent post. Additionally, I have shared your site in my social

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