The Birth of Our Inspiration Wall

Rome was not built in a day.  Over the past 24 hours, I’ve repeated this little mantra in my head over and over.  Why?  Because school starts in five days and my to-do list is already long enough to claim my time for weeks.  No joke.  If I did everything I wanted to for my classroom and students, I would not have time to even sleep at night.

So, I’ve been reminding myself that Rome was not built in a day.  Instead of trying to accomplish everything, (which is really impossible, because there is always something more I could do, no matter how many things I cross off my list), I am giving myself windows of time to work my absolute hardest and then giving myself a break.  I discovered last year that trying to do everything just led to burnout and made me a worse teacher.  The law of diminishing returns, I suppose.

Accordingly, as I feel my stress levels rise, I tell myself to relax, do what I can, then be happy about it.  In this spirit, I decided to make myself a little sign for my classroom wall that says simply, “Relax.”  Last year, as I navigated my first ten months on my own, I discovered an amazing little secret that too often escaped me.  While students put on shows or some other momentary chaos unfolded, I just relaxed, took a deep breath, and waited patiently before reacting.  This literally changed my teaching life, although some times it was easier done than others.

Thus, the importance of my new classroom reminder.  As I made myself this sign, I reflected on how I always make myself little positive notes around the house, my old cube, my desk at work.  Until recently, our refrigerator touted “Today is the best day of your life,” “Act like you want to feel,” and “I am grateful for _____,” all written on small notecards.  My old work computer had a sticky that said “Posture.”  You get the idea.

Thinking about these notes and what they mean to me, I realized they mean something to my students too.  During STAR testing last May, when we had to cover all instructional materials on our walls, I made little signs with motivational words, like “Believe in yourself,” “You can do it,” “Mrs. M believes in you.”  When the students walked in, I was surprised by how many little voices were reading the signs aloud, smiles on their faces.  The signs remained on the walls for two weeks and I caught their eyes tracing the words over and over again.

So, in making the relax sign for myself, I realized it was not only for me.  The students will see it too, and hopefully, they’ll internalize its message.  That’s when it occurred to me that this sign should go above our focus desk, where students take time outs in front of a poster of Machu Picchu.  This inspired me to make other signs, which quickly resulted in a renaming of this desk to the inspiration wall.  Now, I plan to invite students to contribute what inspires them, be it a few words or pictures, to hang alongside my inspirations.

New words for my evolving inspiration wall.

Hopefully these words will be inspiring to at least one student that visits the inspiration wall for a break… I’m excited to see what they add to the wall themselves.  We had a really cool class motivation collage full of pictures of their families and heroes last year.  It will be awesome if we can take the idea a step further with this wall.

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9 thoughts on “The Birth of Our Inspiration Wall

  1. allaccesspass says:

    I think you need a poster that says “You are beautiful and intelligent”. 😉

  2. kingmidget says:

    Funny … in the year between college and law school, I enrolled in the International Relations program at Sac State. I lasted less than two months. Ten times harder than law school.

    • oliviaobryon says:

      That is funny! I guess law/international relations must be cross over interests.

      • kingmidget says:

        When I was in college, I would say that I wanted to learn something about every country in the world. I still find the world fascinating (even if I don’t travel it) and want to know things about the places and people on our little planet.

      • oliviaobryon says:

        I’m the same way, although I also want to go to at least half the places that interest me 🙂 It was a great major, especially for keeping up with current events and recent power struggles. I feel pretty out of the loop on all that these days. Takes a lot of energy to keep up.

  3. Shandell Solbach says:

    Love your blog Olivia! You are wonderful in all you do!

  4. Reblogged this on In Transition and commented:
    I know some of my readers are fellow teachers, so I this blog talks about a great idea for your classroom this year.

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