Find Your Inspiration - Tahomah - "Mother of Waters"

In last week’s post we discussed the beginnings of journeys, Start With Heart.  Each of these posts about becoming a Summit Seeker have a connection to a particular peak.  Last week, Start with Heart comes from the Athabaskan word Denali, meaning “The High One.” And our hearts and love for our students should always be the highest of peaks along our journey, but it is also where our journeys should begin.

This week, we will talk about finding your inspiration.  When we are inspired, our ideas and strategies generally flow like rivers, and we find ourselves carried along on the journey, enjoying each part of our travels.  In this way, Inspiration is the source for all of our lessons, and the word Tahomah in the Lushootseed language can be translated to mean “Mother of Waters.”

Being inspired is not something to wait for, you can go to it, just like climbing a mountain!  After you design how you will build relationships with your students, the next step is to figure out how to inspire them to engage with your content & skills.  My recommendation is to tap into what inspires you! Dave Burgess talks about personal passion as a way to carry us through, when we aren’t inspired by the content we teach, and he’s right!  I argue that you can go further! Always tap into your personal passions! Keep those things front and center in your class. Talk about them with students, let them see what drives you and inspires you.  Passion is infectious, and when your kids see you fired up, they get excited too! It’s hard to be disengaged and distant when a person is in front of you excited, it’s like doing The Wave at a sporting event!  It may start small, but soon it builds and everyone is involved.

For myself, my personal passions revolve around the National Parks and games.  Therefore, I went out and looked for ways to infuse those elements into my class, resulting in a year-long gamified class based around the founding of the National Park Service in 1916.  I’ll share more about the exact process and elements I’ve developed throughout this year, but my challenge to you this week is to find your passions and get inspired for your students because they will be arriving in our classes soon, and we owe them a fired up, engaging teacher!

Summit Seeker(s) of the Week: This week I’m shouting out two Summit Seekers who have inspired me,  Michael Matera & Elise Truitt. Michael is a 6th grade World History teacher at University School Milwaukee and is known as the “Guru of Gamification.”  His book, Explore Like a Pirate became my guide for designing my gamified class, along with weekly #XPLAP Twitter chats. In addition, he launched the Hive Summit this summer, a 14 day virtual conference with some of the most amazing speakers and innovators in education.  Follow him @mrmatera. Elise is a middle school English teacher I worked with for several years at Turner Middle School. Her lessons on inferences and conclusions, complete with a room transformation into a crime scene inspired me to be more creative in my lessons and helped push me out of my traditional lecture comfort zone and has made me a much more engaging teacher.  I am grateful for all of her help and inspiration over the years. She’s amazing and you need to follow her on Twitter @Teacher_Truitt. Thanks to both of you for all the advice and help over the years to make me better and inspire me to get fired up about teaching my wonderful middle schoolers.