A moment doesn’t have to be big to make an impact. Sometimes, the small and quiet ones affect us the most. We asked the Free Spirit Advisory Board, “What small moments in the classroom have inspired you as an educator?” Here are their responses.
She, the shy one, suddenly sings, “my turn” or “I know,”
her entire body shouting pride and confidence.
He, the sad one, reveals a sneaky grin,
alas, inviting everyone in.
—Karen Deger McChesney, youth instructor for Lighthouse Writers Workshop and teaching artist at RedLine Contemporary Art Center
There are so many small moments, or as I call them, little things, that have inspired and continue to inspire me as a teacher. I draw so much inspiration from the many inquisitive and creative minds as well as the infinite amount of questions posed by children. They ask us questions we do not have the answers to. Children remind me how each and every single day is filled with so much to discover about the world and ultimately about ourselves. A butterfly or an ant becomes a marvelous creature that we wonder in awe at or even pretend to be by flying or crawling together. Children make me dig deep and model how to treat and take care of one another, our environment, and ourselves. Children teach me what taking care of each other looks like and what sticking together like peanut butter and jelly is all about, especially during the most challenging of times. We breathe together, we talk and work out problems together, and we move together. In the midst of it all, we meet one another where we are and support one another to where we are going. Each and every day I am filled and inspired by our children. For that, my heart and my brain are full with love and memories.
—Jill Telford, educator
I was inspired by the following conversation. (Context: these two children have been working on ways to support each other in their ideas and how to acknowledge each other’s ideas too).
First child: “Here, ____. I know that you wanted this book next so I am ready for you to have it.”
Second child: “Thank you, ______. I really wanted to read that book!”
First child: “Can I get anything else for you? You look so happy!”
Second child: “Thank you! You filled my bucket with your kindness.”
It inspired me to think about how I can authentically fill others’ buckets, thus filling my own.
—Debbie M. Carey, early childhood educator
In preK, all teaching moments can turn into funny moments. Not one sticks out, but if you talk to any early childhood teacher, laughter makes our school day complete, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. My preK students are very good comedians and have even fine-tuned the ability to deliver a punch line. I enjoy being their audience as they “test out” their material daily—particularly at snack or lunch, with bits of sandwich or crackers coming out of their mouths and a big toothy smile to follow, with a wink.
—Ms. Ana Weiss
It is amazing how a smile and “lightbulb” look inspires me. I will never tire of that look when a student finally truly understands a concept.
Sometimes when I look out at the faces in the classroom and consider the stories behind those faces, I am in awe. Students have so much that they have overcome at such young ages. That provides me with inspiration to do my best, because they deserve that.
Every now and then a student will have a piece of information I am not aware of. I praise the student for being smarter than me for that moment in time. The reaction on the student’s face is inspiring, and it warms my heart to know the student had a positive experience for the day, and perhaps for the future.
—Gail Graiewski-Moore, instructional coach/teacher
Our seniors write a letter to a teacher who has inspired them. I received one this year from a young lady whom I have taught for two years. In her letter, she let me know how much she appreciated my treating her like a person and allowing her to be herself in my classroom. When she was having problems at home, I allowed her extra time to turn in some work and didn’t “yell at her” like some other teachers did. This letter made me cry! We don’t always know the impact we have on our students. We need to treat them all like the people they are and give them a chance.
—Dana, high school English teacher
The Free Spirit Advisory Board of Educators is a group of professionals who provide feedback that helps make Free Spirit books even more beneficial for kids, teens, and the adults who care about them. Interested in becoming a member? Recruitment is ongoing! For more information about the benefits and responsibilities of membership, download our Free Spirit Advisory Board flyer and our Free Spirit Advisory Board application.
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