I have a new favorite word this week. It’s a word we’ve all used from time to time, and in a variety of contexts. It’s a word that brings to mind visions of hard work, dreams realized, and hopes for greatness in future endeavors. It’s a word that makes me smile broadly when I think about it being used as teachers teach and leaders lead. I like to think of my word as a super-hero action word – a verb that soars above buildings and goes where others dare not venture.
I have a new favorite word this week and that word is INSPIRE.
The dictionary definitions alone create a feeling of wonder and the determination to plow ahead. Entries found in Dictionary.com include “to fill with an animating, quickening, or exalting influence,” “to guide or control by divine influence,” and “to fill or affect with a specified feeling or thought.”
WOW! Just reading these definitions makes me want to go out and conquer the world. So what does this word have to do with education? EVERYTHING!
A misconception is that anyone can be a teacher given a college degree and an affinity for working with children. It’s true that oftentimes, important skills like classroom management, assessment design, and lesson planning may not really be perfected until well after entering the classroom. But it takes much more than a teaching degree and a state certificate to turn a teacher into an inspiring force. It takes teachers who INSPIRE students to take on challenges that they might not think they are ready to face. It takes teachers who INSPIRE students to not worry only about the right answer, because as history has taught us, what’s right today may actually be obsolete tomorrow. And it takes teachers who INSPIRE and nurture an innate curiosity in students while cultivating the seeds of learning with attention and care.
Hopefully in our lifetime, we have all encountered teachers who have INSPIRED us to do our best, be our best, and bring out the best in others. I see many of those teachers every day, as they arrive at school early and leave well after the last bell has rung. And as an educator, I too continue to be INSPIRED by others who embrace change, think “outside the box,” and create an environment that questions the status quo.
So by now you may be wondering what happened this week to make me feel especially “INSPIRED.” It was a series of events, but in particular, a TED Talk video by a chemistry teacher, Ramsey Musallam. His three simple rules for teaching provide a pedagogy that can be used by educators in all grades and subject areas. Watch Dr. Musallam in the clip below and prepare to be INSPIRED.