Inspiration, it means something slightly different to everyone. Or rather the act of inspiring means something different to everyone. What does inspire mean to you?
Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines “inspire” as follows:
in-spire \in-ˈspī(-ə)r\ transitive verb
- to influence, move, or guide by divine or supernatural inspiration
- to exert an animating, enlivening, or exalting influence on <was particularly inspired by the Romanticists>
- to spur on :impel, motivate <threats don’t necessarily inspire people to work>
- affect <seeing the old room again inspired him with nostalgia>
Whether parent, teacher, or both inspiration should be something always in mind when engaging with your student or child. To inspire someone (child or not) can take many forms. Worth noting is the example from the dictionary itself that notes “..threats don’t necessarily inspire people to work…”.
Often times it’s easy to forget that the smallest nuances can inspire or deter as the case may be. Negativity breeds negativity so try to make every day a positive one for you and your students.
Not every student excels in every approach to a given subject, often times finding that unique approach can be the difference between the student simply getting through and thriving.
If you can reach that place, finding that unique inspiration for each student you’ll not only be creating good students but great lifelong learners who will thrive not just in school but in life. And it will be you that they will always remember for it.
How can you inspire students? The first definition above is probably the most apt “…guide by divine or supernatural inspiration.” That is a teachers job, almost in a nutshell isn’t it? Supernatural inspiration!? I love it. And I think that every teacher has this capability, and I hate to say it, but a responsibility (shared with parents of course) as well.
Using one’s supernatural inspiration means truly knowing who your student is. Do they exhibit a particular interest in one topic versus another? Do you take the time to notice that interest, whether it’s inside or outside of the classroom? How can that topic be bridged into another? Do they aspire to have a particular career?
Take the time to make that mental note of these things and share that information with parents when the opportunity presents itself. Occasionally chat up that topic with the student. Remember that sometimes just validating their interest can be inspirational! By not shooting it down out-of-hand in a negative way can go a long way in validating that their interests matter. And that positivity can alone be extremely inspiring.
Whether adult or student, everyone wants to know that their dreams, hopes, and aspirations matter. By not dismissing your students interests, responding positively and engaging with them, you are doing far more than you can imagine for them today and tomorrow. But then again we already knew that right?