Is it really fair to ask an English teacher to choose one quote or verse that inspires? How can one possibly narrow it down to just one? What if I pick wrong? What if while I'm lying in bed tonight a much better quote pops into my brain and then I hate myself for not thinking of it earlier? This will most certainly happen, so I'll choose the quote from the side of my room. I have a lot of quotes posted up around the classroom, but this one is the biggest, so I'll go with that.
I originally put it up there as encouragement for both writing and life. Teenagers are trying to discover themselves as people, and it was my small attempt at fighting back against conformity. They live in a small town, which can be a stifling place for those who don't fit in. It also applies to their writing. I tell them I'd much rather see something unique and different, than something I've seen a million times before. I encourage personal voice over perfection.
It's not just the words in the quote itself that reinforce its meaning in my life, it's the actual board, how I executed it. I tried to do something different in my classroom. The original concept was graffiti-inspired with spray paint and a cool factor. And then, as I was making it, I remembered that I've been missing that artistic cool factor for 31.75 years now. Ideas? Yes! Execution? Rarely. So I painted the words. And then I thought it would look better with some silver spray glitter on top (glitter makes everything better, right?). And then I added some flowers because I had them in a junk drawer and why not? Then I added the smaller Shakespeare (Twelfth Night) quote next to it because (there was empty space and) how can you achieve greatness without being an individual in some way?
And you know what? My students love it. It sits over us as we have writing conferences at the counter, a constant reminder about what I value and what I hope they learn to value. It's a good reminder for me, too. Because at least I tried to do something different and make a standard (enormous) bulletin board a little more original.
Maybe I failed, but at least I tried: the words that inspire me.
I teach 7th and 8th grade English in rural Iowa and hope to reflect, connect, and share with other English teachers. Iowa Council of Teachers of English Executive Board member. Iowa Writing Project superfan. UNI MA:TESS graduate.