Bird Droppings August 20, 2021
Quietly listening to Hot Tuna and pondering the word inspiration
Nearly twenty years ago, at a county-wide teacher kick-off meeting, traditionally a packaged inspirational meeting and welcome before budget cuts. This was the startup for the new school year lead by a brought in speaker. They would pay big dollars for someone to come in and inspire us as teachers, it could be a comedian or professional speaker, and it seems each year they try a new approach. I would much rather enjoy hearing Nelson Mandela or Bishop Tutu maybe even Jimmy Carter, but so far, no such luck. In the past, before budget austerity cut the county startup program, we would carpool over to the high school gym nearest our county office and sit in the bleachers listening to pep talks and such, most teachers would leave wishing they had called in sick. I once considered asking for a substitute, but our secretary did not think the county would cover a sub.
Dressed in hip hop clothing, a young black man stood in front of us. He made his point not one person approached him as he boogied through the crowd before the meeting. So, I start today with a quote from a young college professor.
“You can teach anyone anything once you get their ATTENTION.” Dr. Adolph Brown, III
Before the annual teacher’s inspirational gathering in the county, this same professor was walking about the crowd clad in hip hop attire, the baggy pants and shirt, and baseball cap with a dew rag. He could have been from any street corner in Atlanta or Monroe where the school is located; he was just a young black man. A very distinguished man in a business suit rises and heads towards the podium. Then the hip-hop fellow moves toward the mike and takes charge and announces he is Dr. Adolph Brown III from Hampton College, professor of psychology and education. He is a world-wide consultant and motivational speaker.
“The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called ‘truth.’” Dan Rather
We, teachers, sat listening to this young professor talk about faith, trust, and getting student’s attention.
“In teaching, you cannot see the fruit of a day’s work. It is invisible and remains so, maybe for twenty years.” Jacques Barzun
New teachers come in wanting to make changes in students’ lives immediately, and it does happen, but the real differences are often years later. Recently a former history teacher joined our high school group site, and many of our members were offering memories of this great teacher’s efforts both in the classroom and as a coach. Mr. Ross Kershey was one of the winningest basketball and track coaches in Pa. and a truly great teacher in the classroom inspiring students to learn. It has been over forty-five years since I was in his class, yet I still consider him one of the best teachers I ever had. Over the years, I have sat at the feet of some great teachers in college classes and industrial seminars. I did my job as a professional management training coordinator.
“Most teachers have little control over school policy or curriculum or choice of texts or special placement of students, but most have a great deal of autonomy inside the classroom. To a degree shared by only a few other occupations, such as police work, public education rests precariously on the people’s skill and virtue at the bottom of the institutional pyramid.” Tracy Kidder
I had a former student come by to visit me a few years back. He had walked across the stage nearly eleven years ago to accept a special education diploma and then went on and officially finished high school and received his general education diploma and went on to college. It was a good feeling to be sitting there talking with a student who kept at it and succeeded even though all the odds were stacked against him.
“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” William Arthur Ward
This is what teaching is about, it is an inspiration, and I wish all teachers could have heard those comments we heard in our Walton County teachers meeting that year when Dr. Brown offered the key component in teaching it is our example. It is setting an example for students. I have heard that before many times and somehow, it does not sink in with most teachers. So, as we head towards a school end for the summer and End of Course Tests the next few weeks at our school, please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste.
My family and friends, I do not say this lightly,
(We are all related)