Monday, November 20, 2017

Inspire & Be Inspired

Years ago while still in high school, I made my decision that I wanted to go into education.  I was inspired by a lot of great teachers, from Mr. Pintar, my US History teacher and basketball coach, Mr. Caderette, my school's athletic director and my baseball coach, Mr. Linton, my government teacher and football coach, Mr. Bell, my biology teacher, Ms. Wojt, my earth science teacher, Mrs. Dewitt, my chemistry teacher, Mr. Meek, my Latin teacher (yes, Latin!), and Mr. Bennett, my PE teacher and football coach, just to name a few.  While I didn't end up pursuing biology and chemistry as my degree program as I had originally planned, my mind was made up by my sophomore year that education was going to be my career path.  I always told myself that as long as I was in the game, I wanted to be that inspiration to my students.  Over 12 years and thousands of students later, it is always comforting running into former students and hearing their stories and the kinds words that so many of them have in regards to their time with me.

Really, Chipotle?  
At my school, we have periodic releases of students to go back to a comprehensive school.  Students are assigned to my school for various infractions and as long as they take care of business by attending school, performing in the classroom, and staying out of trouble, their assignment to my school comes to an end.  Last Friday was one of the release days, so several of my students will be at a different school when we return from the Thanksgiving holiday break.  As the day progressed, I said goodbye and good luck to several students that will not be returning, with many of them thanking me for their time with me.  One such student shook my hand, thanked me and told me that he was going to miss me.  Another young lady stopped by my room between classes a couple of different times to see me, thank me, and tell me that she was going to miss me. I will definitely miss many of these students, but as I told them throughout the day, "No offense, but I don't want to see you ever again, unless it is randomly at Chipotle or something" (Why I chose Chipotle, I don't know, I like Chipotle, but it is far from my favorite place").

Clearly, throughout my career, I have had some form of inspiration on my students.  But my students have inspired me throughout my career as well.  When students in my classes have struggled, they have inspired me to better my craft so I can better serve them.  In a previous post, I talked about how I was not the innovative, technologically savvy educator that I like to think that I am today; my students were partly the reason as to why I am who I am professionally today.  When I have learned about some of the struggles that so many of my students have had to deal with, socially, economically, psychologically, and physically, it has inspired me to be a more empathetic and compassionate person, not so much of the "tough love" kind of person that I was, and still am to  an extent, early in my career.  More recently, I had a different form of inspiration from my students that has changed my approach some.

As a PE teacher, I get to work with students each day in some form of physical activity.  In my class, I give students a great deal of choice in what activities that they would like to do during class.  Basketball is popular, as is table tennis, and so is weightlifting.  One day a few weeks ago, some of my students were working on the bench press and asked if I could lift what they were working on, which was 135 pounds.  I told them that during my college football days and a couple of years ago when I was heavy into weightlifting (see what I did there?), I was bench pressing well over 300 pounds.  One of the boys challenged me to see if I still had it.  They set the bar up with 225 pounds and I told them that I hoped I could still get it at least 5 times.  When it was all said and done, I pressed the weight 10 times, something that I fully did not expect.  Word started getting around school that I had lifted that weight and kids were asking me in the hallway if I really did.  Since that day, I have been regularly lifting weights 2-3 times a week.  I am still working on motivating myself to start getting up early to get a cardio workout in, something that I have gotten away from since I hurt my knee a year or so ago.

Bottomline, my students inspired me to do something that I wasn't doing before.  Had it not been for those boys challenging me on the bench press, I probably would not be pursuing a regular weight training schedule.  My goal for the Thanksgiving holiday is to start getting back into the habit of not only weight training, but cardio training as well.  While I will most likely never be jacked like I was during my football days, it would be nice to cut weight, get stronger and more fit, and be a piece of eye candy for Mrs. Anderson.

Strive every day to be an inspiration to your students, your colleagues, your family, and your community.  At the same time, take inspiration from them as well and we will all work together to make our world a better place.

Until next time...

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