As I headed out for my run today, I realized something. While I hope that I can inspire my students, they definitely are an inspiration to me.
Running along, against the wind, through the cold, dodging snowdrifts, avoiding cars, generally having a tough time of it, I kept thinking about quitting. At best, I’m a reluctant runner. I’m always happiest when it’s time to stop and walk. I never have been able to understand the runners who say they can’t stand tapering before a race. Tapering is the BEST! It means I don’t have to run as much!
So, tonight, trying to get my 3 miles finished before it got dark, I kept trying to talk myself out of walking. What really kept me going wasn’t knowing I was getting stronger, or that my pace would be faster, or even that I would finish sooner. No, what kept me going was thinking about my students.
Some of them are working harder than they ever have before to complete and turn in all assignments so they will be eligible for Reward Day. This is a tough task for some of them. These are students who regularly have failing grades, even through elementary school (remember, I teach 6th grade, so these kids are coming to me from elementary style classrooms!) For them, completing their work and turning it in is just as tough as completing my run is for me.
When I thought about quitting tonight, I kept picturing them, pushing through and completing an assignment. If I ask them not to quit and not to let me down, how can I not do the same?
Realizing that my running for me is as hard as their assignments are for them is humbling. It’s also inspiring. As I pushed through the thoughts of stopping to walk, I realized that’s what I’m asking of them. To push through when they’d rather take it easy. They are my inspiration and tonight, they inspired me to keep going and complete 3 miles – longer than I’ve run straight for several months. It’s a small victory, but, as I tell my students, each step along the way brings you closer to your goal. In my case, that’s a half marathon in May. In theirs, it’s an afternoon at the movie theater with their friends.
If we can keep inspiring each other, we all just might reach our goals! I plan to tell them tomorrow about my run and how they inspired me to keep going.
How do you inspire your students? How do they inspire you?