How to Find Inspiration in the English Learners We Teach

Teaching is hard.

Why do some students get it so easily while others don’t?

 Why are some students so motivated while others just sit there?

Why do some students love reading while others love thinking of ways to get out of reading?

Why do some students work quickly while others drag their feet?

Why do some students help and other students fight?

There are so many problems to face in a classroom and it’s hard.

At times, it can be discouraging, disheartening.

At times…

We imagine things one way in our heads before entering the classroom and exit it wondering how things went so wrong.

We enter the classroom with a smile and exit it with a sigh.

That time between the entering and the exiting is precious time, we all know, but how do we make the most of it?

How do we go about finding joy in it without losing our sanity in it?

We find that inspiration in the kids we teach.

We find it in observing them.

What makes them tick?

What makes them laugh?

What makes them work hard?

What shuts them down?

What lights them up?

Then we try something new. 

Something completely different than maybe we have ever tried before, something that may take us completely out of our comfort zone to do.

Maybe it works and suddenly the entire classroom dynamic has changed.

Maybe it fails and suddenly the entire class is imploding in on itself.

Either way, you keep observing.

The classroom is like a machine, a system with lots of moving parts.

When you tighten something over here, something loosens over there.

Every part affects everything else.

When you watch closely, you’ll see it: the on/off switches.

There isn’t just one.

They are all over the place.

When a switch turns off, if you’re paying attention, you’ll notice, and when one goes on, take note.

If you can turn on enough switches, you’ll have a kid-inspired classroom.

A classroom where the children are inspired by the teacher and the teacher is inspired by the children.

As a teacher, there is nothing better.

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