Wynette Richardson was an active advocate for Citizen Schools during her three years as an English/Language Arts Teacher at Henderson Middle School in Henderson, NC. Wynette is a currently an English Instructor at Halifax Community College in Weldon, NC, and is also a Motivational Speaker and Workshop Facilitator for Verbal Elations. Follow her on twitter, @verbalelations for motivational updates.
As an educator and motivational speaker, the greatest reward is seeing students excel to their maximum potential. Often times, we do not understand or know what our students have experienced, have not experienced, or want to experience. Therefore, as aspiring educators, we must bring them life! How do we do that? Simple. Here are a few tips on how to part life into our future leaders.
First, we must bring our life experiences to them by engaging, motivating and believing in the youth. When need to engage the students with experiences we have encountered, good and bad, to let them know that no matter what their circumstances are, they can learn from what they have done. An example that illustrates this is when I was teaching 7th grade Language Arts in a rural community of North Carolina. I was introducing a poetry unit and I wanted to engage the students to be open to the unit. The first day of the unit, I informed them I was bringing in a guest to assist me. When a Teaching Fellow from Citizens Schools arrived, the students were excited to hear what he had to say. He was so inspiring, they referred to his engaging demonstration of poetry long after our unit ended; it engaged the students so much, they started to write their own poems!
Motivation is the key to a successful classroom. It will enhance the instruction, as well as, allow the students to identify with ways in which they can grow into their own. When students start to tap into who they are and see things that they never knew existed, they will continue until they find themselves. We all need a little motivation at times; our motivation should be excitement that runs over into our students. Inform the students that if they are not satisfied receiving a particular grade, they are not a failure; they just need to try a different studying strategy.
Do you believe in me? A question I have heard on numerous occasions from students. Students often wonder who we really are and if we are “equipped” to educate. YES we are! Believing in students is the most vital part of being an educator because if we do not believe in their potential, we will never see them reach it. As educators and aspiring educators, we must believe in the students no matter their background or circumstances. Once they see and know that we believe in them, they will reach their highest goals for first themselves then us. Always believe in what you see in your students even when their vision of themselves is blinding the way; lead them.
The words in this publication are transparent experiences- ones from my 7th graders to my college students. When seeking an opportunity that is rewarding and impacting, consider fellowships or jobs that include children because they are the most influential people I have encountered; they will in turn engage, motivate and believe in us to become better educators.
How have young people inspired you recently?