Written by: Kendra Jordan, M.A. SpEd. Feature on left reading to one of her scholars.
What do you want to be when you grow up? A question I continue to ask my scholars and was asked myself at a young age. I often wonder what is on their minds. Some say they want to be a lawyer, doctor or YouTuber. Scholars rarely say they would like to be a teacher or educator. What they do not realize is that they require a true educator leading them in the right direction. An educator giving them the tools they need to be whatever they want to be. It is these educators that truly inspire scholars.
Motivation Goes a Long Way in Inspiring Scholars!
Growing up in a household where education was a necessity, it seemed like my siblings and I were always shooting for the stars. We would always bring home essays, exams, and projects with hopes that our parents would treat us to something special that evening. My parents achieved a High School diploma and an Associate’s degree. For them, education was important. My parents encouraged us more than they were encouraged. But, “becoming your own boss” was even more significant. They noticed that in order for us to run our own businesses, we would have to be scholarly individuals as well as entrepreneurs.
In school, I motivated myself as well! I would also look at my grades and tell myself, “I could do better”. All throughout elementary, middle, and high school I focused on maintaining a certain average. I believed that if I didn’t, I would not be seen as smart or intelligent to my family. This mindset led me to become an educator with the passion for learning that reflects in all that I do and teach. Being an educator has become a major part of my life. I want to inspire scholars across the globe. I am drawn to teaching not only scholars in my classroom, but also scholars in my community.
Educators Inspire Scholars to Be Their Best Selves
Every teacher can inspire students to be their best selves. Here, Kendra reads “Ron’s Big Mission”, a story that has inspired scholars during her teaching career.
I have had the privilege of being taught by educators that valued learning and had the passion to teach others to be the best scholars they can be. There are some things that I can and will never forget about those influential teachers.
For example, Ms. Rothenberg who taught me the ‘Achy Breaky Heart’ line dance and math together. Or Mr. Jefferson who never took “I don’t know” as a valued response to a question, and never made me feel insignificant in front of the other students. These teachers forced me to be a force to be reckoned with in elementary school. The memories of their lessons and more helped me to grow into the person I am now. I will forever be grateful to them and I hope they feel honored by my continuous pursuit of more efficient teaching and learning knowledge. It is their example that has helped me understand how to inspire scholars throughout my career.
Helping Inspire Scholars
“Helping others help themselves” has always been my motto, ever since I entered the workforce. I always pictured myself doing a service to others and providing them with the tools they need to better their lives. I realized there is no better way to live up to my motto than to enter the field of education.
Working with scholars has always been a passion of mine. Ever since I worked with my first class in 2010 as a teacher’s assistant, I learned the true meaning of an ‘educator’. I also learned that there is a difference between a teacher and an educator.
It’s Okay to Struggle
I witnessed my lead teacher constantly break down due to her inability to address the behaviors in our all-boy classroom environment. Since this was my first official teaching experience, I could only use the work that I completed as an undergraduate in the Childhood Education program at SUNY Oswego as a reference.
I am not ashamed to admit that classroom management was a struggle at first. I did find ways to incorporate my own passions into the classroom by using my love for science and STEM education to motivate the students to do their best. We completed several problem-based learning projects which were student centered and helped them feel in control of their own learning. That year, my kindergarten scholars became engineers and they did not even realize it.
Teacher vs. Educator – There is a difference
A teacher is a person who teaches, especially in a school and an educator is a person who provides instruction or education. To be an educator you must be willing to instruct a scholar in more than just academics. Social-Emotional learning is essential when it comes to a scholar’s progression through school. Being a problem solver, learning how to deal with outside relationships, self-management of their emotions is what they need to succeed. These skills will assist and inspire my scholars with becoming lawyers, doctors, and YouTubers so when they do grow up, they will be well prepared for their future.
Where Do We Go From Here?
These past 2 years have taught us the importance of having a strong educational foundation. In order for us to have this, we need a strong educator on our team to help us build or rebuild that foundation. We are now in the stage of ‘reinventing’ the learning process and progress of our scholars and we need your help! Here is what you can do to inspire scholars inside and outside the classroom:
First, make everything a learning experience:
Step up a pretend grocery store, have your scholars count change.
When you travel on field trips, have your scholars read the billboard signs along the way.
Each time you walk out into the world is an opportunity to review the skills you’ve taught them.
Encourage parents to make every moment a learning opportunity.
Second, read EVERYTHING:
We never realize how present the skill of reading is within each and every subject. You need to know how to read to do a math story problem. You need to know how to read in order to sign a contract. Reading and understanding what you are reading is extremely important in any and all professions. Educators and parents can try dialogic reading during read aloud times. This allows scholars to read and ask different types of questions. Learn how below.
Finally, try project based learning:
Scholars need to feel that you have invested in their learning, just as much as you would like them to. Assign fun projects to further extend and inspire scholars in their learning. Scholars get to dive deep and make meaningful, hands-on connections. Projects also give families the opportunity to share in the experience of the learning process. Projects are a fun, engaging way to have scholars work collaboratively with their families. When the family is on-board with learning, scholars see the importance both at-home and in the classroom. You can even tell parents to have their scholar be the teacher at home by having their scholar teach them what they’ve learned in class.
How to Implement Dialogic Reading
Completion questions (fill in the blanks)
Recall questions (provide details)
Open-ended questions (increase book talk)
Wh ?s (inquiry questions)
Distance Questions (bridge the story to real-life situations)
Use dialogic reading to inspire scholars to dive deeper into stories.
Thanks for reading today’s educator article! Please read the “About the Author” section below to learn more about our featured author, Kendra Jordan, and her brilliant work with “My S.E.A.T” and “Read and Sign with Me”.
About the Author
Kendra is the Owner/CEO, My S.E.A.T. LLC, a tutoring company that specializes in early intervention from grades 1-6. Learn more at https://linktr.ee/MyS.E.A.T.LLC She has a Master’s degree in Special Education, and has a strong passion for educating our youth. Kendra is also the Co-Founder of the incredible “Read and Sign With Me” program, where she and Co-Founder Aminah read books while teaching scholars to sign at the same time. You can tune in every Thursday at 6:05 P.M. EST on their Instagram page @readandsignwithme. These weekly readings and lessons are geared toward ages 0-8. You can learn more about “Read and Sign With Me” at https://linktr.ee/readandsignwithme.