My students. They make me laugh; they make me cry; they make me want to yank every hair from my head! But most of all, they inspire me. They inspire me to be a better teacher, a better writer, a better reader, even a better photographer. Most importantly, they inspire me to be a better person.
I have some amazingly talented artists in my seventh grade class. Today, during art awareness, the students were working with paints trying to replicate some of the work of Wayne Thiebaud. Thiebaud is famous for paintings of delectable bakery items, cakes, pies, and yes, even cupcakes. Each student today had a cupcake that they were to paint. I wandered around the room with my camera, mostly just observing these artists at work. As I was passing Dom and Devin, I heard Devin whine, "I can't do the frosting!!" I stopped and was about to say a negatively-phrased platitude like, "That's not what I want to hear!" Before I could say anything, thankfully, Dom quietly said, "Dude, sure you can! Just do this." And he proceeded to demonstrate a few strokes of the pencil.
I didn't think much of it at first. It needed time to percolate in my brain. A few minutes later, I was back at Dom and Devin's desks, and these two incredibly talkative boys were focused so intently on their paintings that they didn't even notice me taking photographs. I looked at Devin's painting and, sure enough, he'd done a wonderful job on his frosting. The few positively-phrased words that Dom had used worked so much better than what I was going to say.
What a wonderful lesson for the teacher today!