Friday, September 13, 2013
What Inspires Me? (and what doesn't)
Post by Rodger Wilming: Rodger is in his 14th year as a Language Arts teacher at Bettendorf High School and currently teaches Literature and Creative Writing.
I’m not sure anyone will care what inspires a Literature and Creative Writing instructor in an out of the way place like Bettendorf, Iowa, but I've never worried too much about what others think of me. I've also never contributed to a blog before today. I've had some experience though. I've restored antique toys, furniture, musical instruments and even automobiles. I've driven the big brown truck that brings packages to your home and place of business. I've even been to college… a Big Ten school at that.
Despite all of that experience I was still surprised when I read that the Los Angeles Unified School District had just spent one billion dollars on iPads for its students. One Billion… with a “B”. That’s a lot of dollars. A billion dollars could be downright awe inspiring if I were inspired by such things… but I’m not. I’m inspired by people as a rule. Take Mark Schuster, one of my former instructors from the University of Iowa, for example. Mark was inspiring. He even held a black belt in Karate. He knew a lot about feelings and how to treat his fellow man, mostly because he said he’d been relentlessly bullied early on as a boy in school. He told me something I’ll never forget. Mark said, “Your students won’t always remember what you've taught them, but they’ll always remember how you've treated them.” No truer words were ever spoken.
One other man greatly inspired me as a new teacher as well. The Reverend James Campbell, or “Slick” as most of us called him, gave me a bit of advice I will never forget. I was early in my teaching career when I told Slick about a handful of students who were making my life fairly miserable. One lad even lit the fringe of his blue jeans on fire in my class in a desperate, albeit creative, attention-seeking stunt. Slick listened patiently as I described several of these troubled and troubling kids, never once interrupting me. Then he told me, “You know, Rod, when you look into the faces of those kids you’re looking into the face of God.” Now, I’m not what you’d call a religious man by most measures, but I've never looked at a student in any other way from that day to this. Some days that’s more difficult to do than others.
I’d like to thank Mark Schuster and Slick Campbell for the pearls of wisdom they imparted upon me. If I were Bill Gates I’d give each of them one billion dollars to improve the lives of students in any way they see fit. I’m not sure how they’d spend all of those dead presidents, but I’m pretty sure I know how they wouldn't.
Posted by Unknown at 10:14 AM