I had to ponder that question because there isn’t a simple answer. I get ideas everywhere!
Here is my Top 8 Inspiration List (not in rank order):
1- Pinterest. How did I ever live without Pinterest? 😉 And I must say that while I get some FAB ideas from teacher-oriented pins, I also love to follow boards that are generally inspiring, such as visual art boards (i.e.- art journaling and art techniques), boards on specific educational philosophies like this Reggio board and this Waldorf board, and creativity/inspiration boards (i.e. this one and this one.) Truly, the quickest way to grow your creative thinking process is to immerse yourself in FRESH and NEW ideas that might not be part of your daily experience. You’ll be surprised where they will lead you!
3- Blogs. I have mentioned some of my favorites before. Blogs are great because they are an always-flowing stream of information and ideas. When you curate a list of your favorite blogs on a reading platform such as Bloglovin‘, it’s like having a new e-magazine waiting for you at all times. Love it!
4- Visiting other schools/ classrooms and talking with fellow educators. That ALWAYS inspires me! I have learned to take a camera with me because I can never remember/record all the ideas I see. I also try to go with some questions in mind, such as “How do you celebrate student success?” or “What interventions have you found most effective with your struggling students?” That way I am sure to get some specific, useful information in addition to lots of “extras!”
5– Educational Conferences. I LOVE to attend conferences. I’m a little kid in a candy store at an Ed Conference! It’s always such a boost to hear passionate, knowledgable education leaders speak. I’ll never forget the first time I attended a session led by Regie Routman. It changed my teaching life! She called a certain (widely used) reading program “insidious” for the negative long-term effects it has on student comprehension and their ability to independently choose appropriate books. That same reading program’s company was right next door in the exhibit hall. Regie didn’t care! She spoke the truth. That one moment taught me to stand up to the “big machine” of education and meet every new program or idea with one key question: “Is this good for my students?” (Not- “Is this easy?” or “Does this facilitate record-keeping?”) I’ve had so many powerful learning moments of that kind at national and state educational conferences. I think every teacher should attend at least one conference per year!
6- Professional Development Seminars/ Workshops. Now that I frequently find myself teaching PDs, I love to be a “student” more than ever. There are PD opportunities available online these days so it’s easier than ever. Patty at Deep Space Sparkle offers some amazing online classes featuring visual art. The Education Closet hosts an annual online STEAM conference in the summer. If you are looking for a specific topic, Google that topic + “online course” or “online professional development.” You are likely to find lots of options!
7- Professional Books. Oh, how I love professional books. In my nightstand queue at this moment:
Hidden Gems: Naming and Teaching from the Brilliance in Every Student’s Writing
Creating Meaning Through Literature and the Arts: Arts Integration for Classroom Teachers(5th Edition) (My all-time favorite arts integration book- just out in a revised and expanded edition!!!)
Find more of my favorites on my Resource Page.
8- Picture Books- There is nothing like a well-done picture book to get my “idea” juices going. When it’s time to develop a unit, I gather as many picture books on the topic as possible (hello library fines!) and spend an hour or two paging through and jotting down my ideas. (Usually in a web.)
I have a great example to share with you- I’m working on it this week and will post ASAP.
Next time you feel stumped on a topic, grab a stack of quality picture books and see where they take you! You’ll be amazed.
Where do you get your best teaching ideas? What inspires your teaching? I’d love to hear in the comments!
PS- Ya’ll, I have so many posts in the hopper! (Too many ideas seems to be my problem!) Life has been really busy for me lately with other work, but good things are on the way to Wonder Teacher! Interviews with experts, more on Writing Workshop, a puppet DIY, Drama integration ideas… keep checking in!