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.