Growing Green: A Story of Inspiration

I just stumbled upon  this TED story last night and thought everyone needs a bit of inspiration on a Monday morning. I love watching these TED talks that inspire and give me hope as an educator.

After watching this TED talk about this teacher in the South Bronx doing amazing things and truly making an impact, it reminded me of the dream that I have to start my own school one day. Dreams to start a school where students can nurture and grow their creativity. Dreams to start a school where students can follow their passions. Dreams to start a school where students can become agents of change.

What are your dreams and hopes as an educator?

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A Weekend of Inspiration, Art & Books

A few weekends ago, my school hosted a Children’s Literature Conference. We had amazing authors and illustrators give keynotes and lead workshops. The authors and illustrators that attended were Deborah WilesKadir NelsonLaura Vacarro Seeger and Chris Crutcher. I’m a huge fan of Kadir Nelson’s artwork, especially in the book, A Nation’s Hope! They shared their stories while challenging us to tell our own stories. Not only did I want to buy all these amazing books that these authors wrote and illustrated afterwards, but I was inspired to start writing my story.

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One of the author/illustrators that came was Laura Vacarro Seeger. Her most recent picture book, Green was a Caldecott Honor book this year! She presented her inspiration for her various picture books by sharing her sketches and writer’s notebook. I was amazed at how she took pictures books to a whole new level through her creativity. I especially loved her book Green. Here is an amazing video of her book.

Laura even signed my book and took a photo! I found out later that she actually worked with my students in their art class. In addition to that, I had my students and their book buddies (2nd grade class) do an art activity together based on the book. After reading the book to them, we had the kids come up with their own “green” page in order to create a class book. They thought of a phrase and then drew the artwork to go with it. There were some very creative drawings and phrases from exit green, fast green, grass green, ocean green, funky green, alien green, jewel green and more! Thank you Laura for your inspiration!

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Let Your Students Inspire You

Something new I am trying to do this semester is to not teach as much. Hmm. Does that sound bad? As a teacher it’s in my blood to correct every mistake, or tell them my knowledge about a certain subject. Obviously, students need to understand and know math concepts, and how to read and write, etc. But I feel like there are so many things I tell them, that are my truths. They could be real and all, but my students might find a better way to explain it or think about it.

I heard a story once (I have no idea from whom, or if it is even true, but it as stuck with me for years) that the man who invented the door to washing machines sat on his floor and thought forever about how a penguin would open a door, and that was how he came up with the handle.

Do I ever give my students the time to sit and think about how penguins open doors?

I am not sure if you have guessed by now, reading this blog by Jee Young and I— but everything we do is inspired by our faith in God. My church here in Seoul has a theme for every year. 2013 is the year of Inspiration. I am realizing this is seeping into my teaching life as well. I want to inspire my children, and I often realizing that they inspire me more. The ideas they think of, the solutions they come up with- they are usually pretty brilliant.

I am learning not to shut them down even if they don’t give what I think is the right answer. Instead of telling them the “right” thing, I am asking them how they came up with their ideas. I still correct them, and I correct them often, but this is a start.

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My students inspire me every day.

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Caine’s Arcade: A Cardboard Arcade

I’ve just finished day 3 of the Teachers College Reading Institute. It has been intense, tiring, and inspirational. It’s like a much needed retreat for teachers. Of course I’m learning so much, and trying to process and make sense of everything. I’m meeting a lot of amazing educators from all over the world, plus some of my colleagues at my new school! Even though I’ve been to the summer institutes before, each time I go, I take away new revelations and nuggets that spur me to become a better teacher. I’m so thankful for all the energy, excited and encouragement that these leaders in teaching reading and writing give to us. I’m still processing everything, and I will try to post some more concrete things I’ve learned soon.

During today’s closing keynote session, Kathy Collins shared a clip from the short film Caine’s Arcade as an illustration about how she was given some much needed inspiration and hope after watching this. This was the first time I heard about this, but I guess it did go viral a while ago.

So if you haven’t seen it yet, please watch it!