Why Go Back Day After Day?

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This week I continue my three post arc about inspiration–today’s topic: what inspires me as a teacher.  After you read my post, I encourage you to take a moment to read some of my fellow teachers’ responses and maybe even leave your own thoughts in the comments section below.  If you missed the first post in this arc, you can find it here, though there is no need to read them in order.

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Personally, my inspiration comes from the same place as a lot of other teachers–from my students and from knowing that I am influencing the next generation in a positive way.  For me, even on those days where the students are more frustrating than not and the paperwork has me on edge, taking a moment to think about what a privilege teaching can be helps put all the frustrations in perspective.  (A glass of wine and some appetizers after work with my fellow teachers isn’t bad either, but that is a story for another time!)

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Today though, I want to tell you about one student who served as a particular inspiration to me.  My last teaching job was at a small private school where I taught all the Language Arts to all the sixth through eighth graders.  This broke down to seeing each of the grades twice a day–once for English class and once for Literature class.  Add to that a seventh grade homeroom and by the time my students graduated eighth grade, I had had them in my classroom for well over 800 hours.  That is a huge amount of time to spend with a student–to teach, to learn, to build relationships!

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Abby* was one of those students.  When she entered my class as a sixth grader, she was a lanky and talkative eleven-year-old.  She had lots of enthusiasm and loved to read even if comprehension wasn’t always her strong suit and her logic trails more often resembled meandering forest footpaths than direct super highways.  Abby came to my class every day with an enthusiasm for learning that always brought a smile to my face.  If you were having a bad day, Abby would notice.  Her smile was infectious and her attitude one that could lift an entire class.

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Over the three years I had the privilege to teach her, Abby and I worked together on her comprehension and ability to explain herself.  In Literature class particularly, we did lots of discussion and written “point making.”  As we worked over the course of the years, Abby’s skill improved and she was able to understand, explain, and clarify much better.  The improvements were really striking.  By the time she finished eighth grade, Abby was one of my best and most pointed discussers.  Her discussion and observations were insightful and interesting when we read To Kill a Mockingbird, and she gave an outstanding  and memorable performance as Juliet in our class production of Romeo and Juliet.

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During all the hard work, despite the frustrations and the days that didn’t go as well as hoped, and even when victory seemed a long way off, Abby’s enthusiasm never waned.  She has grown into a wonderful, articulate, and beautiful young lady, and I am proud to have been at least some small part of that journey.  Successes like this with students who you build relationships with and whose smiles brighten your day are one of the things that inspires me as a teacher.

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Below are some of the thoughts of fellow teachers about what inspires them as they teach.  I encourage you to take a moment to read what they have to say and maybe visit their blogs or TpT stores if you would like to learn a bit more about them.

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Wherever and whatever you teach (and remember, we are all teachers both in and out of the classroom), take some time to consider what inspires you.  I hope you will share some of that in the comments section below!

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Teach On!

Rebecca

Visit my TpT store here!

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*Name changed for student’s privacy.

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The things that inspire us are beautiful!

“I am inspired by my students. Every day I observe how they are growing or what struggles they are having and it inspires me to come up with creative ways to teach my content. I am also inspired by many of my students that have difficult home lives. I see them working so in class despite all of the difficulties they have out side of school. I was blessed with a great childhood and had it very easy growing up. Seeing my students perseverance is my inspiration.”  ~Growing Mathematical Minds

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“Colleagues at school inspire me everyday!”  ~Civics Corner

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“The possibility of changing the world one student at a time.”  ~Brittany @ Challenges from a Teacher Mom

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“My students. When something finally “clicks” for them, when you see their smiles, when they are truly ENJOYING learning..it makes me want to do even more for them. It may sound cliche, but it is true. I am always open and looking for ways to improve my craft of teaching, and I am inspired by the students that I am in contact with every day.”  ~Kristy from Teach with all your Heart

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“Getting students who think they hate science to realize it is interesting and fun!”  ~Becca from Science Rocks

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“A combination of factors– first, my students inspire me. They are such dynamic, complex, and interesting characters. I love the challenge of finding what makes each student tick. They inspire me to be a more creative and efficient teacher so that I can challenge and captivate them. Second– my colleagues inspire me. I am using the broad definition of colleagues here, because I am inspired by the coworkers I have in my building as well as the teachers I meet on Instagram half way across the US! The collaboration, unity, and encouragement inspires me to take risks some days and stay the course on other days!”  ~Colleen of Historical Thinking Classroom

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“Building relationships with my students and seeing them grow in the subject area but also as human beings”.  ~Story Trekker

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“My students. Seeing them engaged and excited to come to class, and especially when they start to ask those deeper questions that get the whole class talking.”  ~Amanda

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This Week’s Featured Product
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Four Poetry Projects and Corresponding Rubrics for Middle and High School

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These diverse projects and rubrics are a great addition to a wide range of poetry units.  Four projects are included in this product:  a narrative poetry project, a research poster and poetry analysis project, a memorization project, and an end-of-unit project.   For more details or to purchase this product, click here!
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This Week’s Journal Questions
For the teacher:  Who or what can you look to when you are feeling uninspired?  Does it change depending on the situation/moment/day/year?  Why or why not?  When is this inspiration particularly important?
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For the student:  What is something you do that you feel passionately about?  Why do you feel this way?  Is/was there someone or something that made you want to start or continue this activity?
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A Recipe from My Kitchen:
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Smoked Pulled Pork on the Grill
plated pulled pork
My husband is the grill master in the family.  This is his recipe.  He served the pork with sautéed broccoli and baked beans–it was all fabulous!
Ingredients:
  • 1 Pork Shoulder Roast (also called a Boston Butt) boneless or bone in. 
  • For the Rub:
    • Kosher salt
    • Fresh ground black pepper
    • Mixture of half apple cider vinegar and half water in a spray bottle 
  • You also need:
    • Charcoal grill
    • Hardwood lump charcoal
    • Wood chunks (I usually prefer apple or hickory)
    • Wide aluminum foil

Directions

  1. Rinse the roast, pat dry, and generously apply rub to entire roast. Place in ziplock bag for 4-12 hours. 

  2. Setup charcoal grill for indirect heat by placing a disposable roast pan underneath the cooking grate in the middle of the grill with hot coals on both sides.  Place a wood chunk on each side of coals.

  3. Place the cooking grate on the grill and the place the roast on the grate centered over the drip pan with the fat slab up.  Put the top on the grill 

  4. Spray the roast with the cider vinager mixture every 30 minutes as well as adding charcoal and wood chunks as needed.  Be careful not to overdo the wood chunks.

  5. Continue to cook the roast until the fat slab cracks.  This should take 3-4 hours, remember this is a marathon not a sprint.

  6. After the fat slab cracks, spray it one last time, remove the roast from the grill, and wrap it in aluminum foil.  Return the wrapped roast to the grill and continue to cook it for about another hour. 

  7. After the hour of wrapped cooking has ended, open the foil and check for doneness by pulling apart the pork with two forks.  It should easily fall apart.  You can also check it by temperature.  It should read around 180 degrees or so. 

  8. After removing from the grill, leave the roast wrapped and allow it to rest for 30 minutes. 

  9. Unwrap the roast and transfer to a 9×13 pan to shred.  There will be juices in the bottom of the aluminum foil–be careful not to spill them, and you should save them for later.  Shred the roast with forks.  Stir the shred pork, adding some or all of the reserved juices as desired. 

  10. Serve by itself or on hearty rolls with (or without) your favorite BBQ sauce. 

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. Kristin says:

    Knowing I am making a difference and helping my students to think differently about the world is what keeps me coming back each and every day.

    Like

    1. I think that is half the battle right there!

      Like

  2. The world truly needs more teachers as dedicated, thoughtful, and passionate as you. You’re an inspiration!

    Like

    1. Oh! Thank you. You’re so sweet!

      Like

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