I remember my first years of teaching. What an absolute joy it was… arriving at school at 6:00 a.m. and staying until 6:00 p.m., and my weekly routine of driving to school on Saturdays. Teaching was my soul and my students became part of my heart. I gave of my time by choice because I loved making a difference in children’s lives.
Teaching was fun.
Teaching was creative.
It was inspirational to innovate and design lessons that engaged my students and ignited their love of learning.
Teaching truly was a science and an art. I still believe it is today… IF teachers are given the time and allowed to do what they are trained to do…
Today, teachers put in long hours because they have to…. and the extra hours are often not spent creating inspirational lessons… rather teachers are shackled with; endless paper work, constant tests to score and log and evaluate, countless meetings, tracking themselves on teacher evaluation sheets to prove themselves, attending professional development on yet another new program they are required to implement, reading the scripted programs handed to them to be followed and ready for the next day…
Christa McAuliffe was trusted as an educator, and given the liberty to be an innovative and inspirational teacher.
Today marks the anniversary of the tragedy of the Space Shuttle. January 28, 1986 the shuttle exploded. I was in my dorm room at the University of Washington. It was one of those moments the heart skips a beat and one’s eyes become glued to the screen. No! It couldn’t be.
On that particular day, I didn’t know very much about Christa McAuliffe. However, 14 years later I was shaking her mother’s hand in Washington D.C. She spoke kindly to me and thanked me for my years of teaching. Grace George Corrigan smiled as she autographed the book she wrote in honor of her daughter, A Journal For Christa. I remember the awe I felt, listening to her speak of the memories of this special mom, wife, educator, astronaut… the goose bumps peppering my skin. Christa, indeed, was one of those rare gems many aspire to be like. She left a legacy.
Christa McAuliffe was a teacher. An innovative teacher. She was known as the “Queen of Field Trips” and she believed strongly in experienced based education. Her students conducted mock trials to learn more about the law. She developed a class on the role of women in the history of the United States. At first, she encountered trouble getting her course accepted, but she wouldn’t give up. Eventually it was placed as an elective and her students were inspired. One of Christa’s students wrote, “Mrs. McAuliffe’s course on the American woman changed my outlook on life. It was like she discovered something new every day, and she was so excited about it that it got the rest of us excited, too.”
A Message to Teachers Today:
I am in awe of the majority of teachers. The challenges we face on some days feel insurmountable. We climb the mountain anyway. Children come to us from all walks of life. We embrace them anyway. We are handed programs our expertise may not resonate with. We breathe life into them and navigate through them anyway. The powers that be want to judge us. We inspire anyway.
Continue the path and the course in which learning is evident and alive.
CONTINUE TO DO WHAT IS RIGHT FOR KIDS. Trust yourself. Surround yourself with your colleagues and inspire one another. Think outside the box. Be different. There is nothing common about you… nor is there anything common about any one of your students.
“To (All Teachers), You touch the future!” Sincerely, Grace Corrigan
I dedicate the following video to each and every teacher across the United States. If you feel a need for a little inspiration right now, be touched by listening to this TED Talk video. Ken Robinson is an amazing speaker and will make you laugh. He may also give you pause about the current education reform efforts, and whether these efforts are the right direction for the future of our children.
The summary of Ken’s three principles in his TED Talk entitled: How to Escape Education’s Death Valley
- Human beings are naturally DIFFERENT and DIVERSE.
- If you can light the spark of curiosity in a child, they will learn without any further assistance…. CURIOSITY is the engine of achievement.
- Human life is inherently creative. One of the roles of education is to awaken and develop these powers of CREATIVITY.
“Teachers are the lifeblood of schools.”
I encourage all teachers to avoid the culture of compliance. Be your unique self and encourage your students to be their unique selves. I believe Christa McAuliffe embraced these same principles. If she were here today, I am certain she would be standing tall… encouraging us all to teach innovatively… and to infuse every lesson with diversity, curiosity, and creativity.
I hold the torch for this kind of teaching. The fire burns fiercely. Will you join me in holding this torch?
“I touch the future…I teach.” Christa McAuliffe
Fire is Catching
A Mommy, Wife, Educator… Opposed to all things COMMON.