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Inspiration: An Educator’s Fuel

Finding the inspirations that fuel your educator’s soul

As you move into winter break, how will you refresh, renew, and replenish your precious mind/body being? And let’s also ask a related but slightly different question. What’s inspiring you these days? What are you reading, listening to, and seeing that fills you up with color, wonder, and a deep relieving sense of connection?

Edutopia writer Elena Aguilar addresses this question in her piece here, titled “Inspiration: An Educator’s Fuel.” Elena says to her fellow teachers, administrators, and support staff, “In the hard work of education, we need to seek out inspiration and hope and fuel our reserves.” She shares some of her own recent sources of inspiration, from an essay by the legendary James Baldwin to contemporary filmmaking that illuminates remarkable details of the natural world we are part of.

Elena invites readers to experience awe through this TED Talk called “Hidden miracles of the natural world.” The presenter is Louis Schwartzberg, a pioneer in time-lapse cinematography of the Earth environment. With high-speed cameras, time-lapse photography, and microscopes he makes visible the delicate beauty in our world that is otherwise imperceptible to the human eye. Such as the wing movements of a dragonfly in flight––which have inspired research into possible medical nanotechnology that mimics “nature’s ingenious devices.”

Louis begins his TED Talk by asking, “What is the intersection between technology, art, and science? Curiosity and wonder––because it drives us to explore…expands our horizons, transforms our perception…it opens our minds, and it touches our heart? He tells us, “We are on the threshold of extraordinary advances, born of our drive to unveil the mysteries of life.”

Elena says, “It’s a beautiful reminder of a different kind of power.”

Another invaluable source of revitalization for Elena is the FuelEd organization, based in Houston. You can find them here and they are all about “fueling schools with the power of relationships.” FuelEd offers K – 12 schools emotional intelligence-based training programs to “prepare educators with science, skills, and self-awareness necessary to put relationships at the center of every school in America.” Their trainings cover listening with empathy, understanding trauma, and nurturing school environments with genuine communication.

Meditation practice through winter break and beyond is a wonderful personal self-care ritual that’s really simple, doesn’t have to take much time at all, and delivers so much benefit. Did you know also that urban secondary schools in cities around the country have also brought meditation practice to school? It’s a non-mandatory program called “Quiet Time” and Elena Aguilar recommends this article all about it in The Atlantic.

The overall “Quiet Time” program is intended to help students reduce feelings of stress, increase mental clarity, develop emotional self-control, social empathy, relaxation, reflection, and in general “develop resources to rise above adversity.” And results have been inspiring. One high school student said, “We’re learning how to become who we want to be. I think it also helps that most of us here meditate.”

What about you? What works to inspire and fuel you with hope and creative energy? Books, plays, films, artwork, music, new ideas in education, scientific discovery and innovation, getting outdoors in nature, board games with friends––and let’s not forget your favorite forms of comedy that make you howl with laughter. The inspirations you fill up with and love will love you back ten-fold.

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