This blog post started writing itself in my head last Friday. It’s a little different from my usual posts. It isn’t a close up on a classroom activity or a teaching technique, it’s more like a “moment in time” photo, capturing a small slice of a teaching day and looking at the little things that inspired and motivated me in that little slice of time.
On Friday mornings, as soon as I’ve waved goodbye to the kids at the door, I rush to check my emails, answer any that are urgent, try to fit too much into too little time, quickly collect my teaching materials and stride off for class, running through the shape of the lesson in my head as I march the 20 mins down the road. Not the best way to start the day!
But last Friday was just a little bit different. There was a change in the routine. I left with the kids and walked with them to school. It meant leaving earlier, it meant walking at a slower pace, it meant indulging in kiddy talk and seeing the morning and the day through their eyes. It was great to slow down and it really inspired me to see the two of them tripping off happily into school, embracing the day ahead. They really helped set my mood as I walked off to my classroom.
As I walked from their school gates to mine, I listened to a TED talk on my ipod. I was listening to Isabel Allende, she made me smile, laugh out loud and brought tears to my eyes. All in the space of a ten minute walk. I find the TED talks humbling and inspiring at the same time. They put everything in perspective, but they also make you want to reach out for more. They’re like a personal pep talk!
I arrived at the school with more than 40 minutes to spare. I went into the bar next door and ordered a coffee. It was great to have thinking time. My Friday morning classes are in a high school. My class register comes along with an A4 sheet of smiling photos of all the students. It was a great help at the beginning when learning the names. It was a great help on Friday morning as I sat and looked at my lesson plan and materials. It made it so easy to focus on how I was going to shape the lesson for each class. To see the class as individuals, not a group and think about how I was going to try to meet the different needs of their different personalities and levels.
I walked into class with a smile on my face and a spring in my step. I was greeted by biology text books, exam nerves and rebellion! They were all really worried about the exam that was coming up in the next class. We talked about it, looked at some of the figures and images in the book, negotiated some attention and commitment to the English class in exchange for an extra ten minutes at the end for biology revision. It got off to a good start. They were focused, engaged, working hard. My vision of the lesson over coffee seemed to be working fine.
Until a student announced that the class had to finish early because they had all been called to a meeting. So that was that. A reminder that the English class is just a tiny piece in the huge jigsaw of their lives at school. A humbling reality bite. But a good one. Being reminded of your place in the big picture can be inspiring too!
I wonder if any of that struck a chord with you? What are the little things that inspire you in your teaching life? I’d be interested to hear about the flashes of inspiration in your day.