The Chalk Blog

This blog was originally published on iteach.net on February 15th, 2021. It has been shared with permission.

The Joy of Teaching

One of my most favorite movies of all time is Sister Act. When we first went to see it as a family, we came out of the theater and my dad asked the attendant if we could stay and watch it again and he said “Yes” with a big smile. Rarely do I want to watch a movie twice, but Sister Act was one of those feel good movies that to this day I could watch on repeat. Then Sister Act II came out, “Back in the Habit”  and this time “Sister Mary Clarence” is called upon to help out at the school where the children have gotten out of hand.

What is great about this movie is that we see what an investment in a child’s life can do. Teachers don’t always know what is going on at home with their students: Have they eaten? Are they homeless? Are they being bullied? However, even without knowing what is going on at home, a teacher has the opportunity to create a safe space where their students can thrive and sometimes all it takes to be a great teacher is showing up and showing that you care.

One of the most exciting things about education is it doesn’t cost a lot to redirect the course of a child’s life. In the story of Erin Gruwell, Miss Gruwell purchases 150 copies of The Diary of Anne Frank and invests in her students and changes their lives. What Miss Gruwell saw in her students was “promise, potential and hope”. To me, that is inspiring, that is motivating. When I get out of bed, I don’t want to start and end my day without having made a difference in someone else’s life. Even if it is in some small way, a compliment, a moment of encouragement, donating to a cause, or teaching someone something that will improve their lives.

Take a moment to watch the Ted Talk that Erin Gruwell gives. It is well worth the 18 minutes of your time. It is inspiring.

Freedom Writers – Inspired by Anne Frank

Erin Gruwell is an educator and president of The Freedom Writers Foundation. When Erin landed her first job at Wilson High School in Long Beach, Ca, she discovered many of her students had been written off by the education system and deemed “unteachable.”

As teenagers living in a racially divided urban community, they were already hardened by exposure to gang violence, juvenile detention, and drugs. By fostering an educational philosophy that valued and promoted diversity, she transformed her students lives. She encouraged them to rethink rigid beliefs about themselves and others, to reconsider daily decisions, and to rechart their futures.

With Erin’s steadfast support, her students shattered stereotypes to become critical thinkers, aspiring college students and citizens for change. They dubbed themselves the “Freedom Writers.” Inspired by Anne Frank and Zlata Filipovic (who lived through worn-torn Sarajevo), Erin and her students captured their collective journey in “The Freedom Writers Diary – How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them.” The book and their stories became the basis for the movie, THE FREEDOM WRITERS, in which Hilary Swank starred as Erin Gruwell.


Become a Teacher. Change Lives.

If you are passionate about impacting the world around you there are few places where you can influence the future as much as a teacher. Teachers have the ability to build students up and set them on a positive course that can have a ripple effect for future generations.

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