Whatever career you have chosen, it is important to rest and recharge. For most teachers, down time in the summer is key! I try to get away every summer for at least a week even if I just have a stay at home vacation. I always try to do some of the things I enjoy doing or visit places that are recreational. Any place or activity can be inspiring to a teacher. It might be a museum, a state park, a great movie, a concert, a novel or professional book.
For me, the inspiring place this summer was Walt Disney World! It was good to get away and relive the things that inspired me as a kid. This is a great practice since we all teach young people! It was good for me to go back and remember what it was like to be a teenager again for a few days. I enjoyed seeing Mickey Mouse, C-3PO, Kermit the Frog, and even Indiana Jones! It was also great to learn about Walt Disney’s life and his innovations to the entertainment industry.
Too often we tend to think that success just happens instantly. It was good for me to see how Walt Disney started out as a simple cartoonist. Through many years of hard work and even some failures, he developed the Mickey Mouse character. I enjoyed learning how he built a team of animators over the years and later a complete movie/ animation production studio. He consistently communicated his vision, and that vision became a reality with each project.
During this trip, I discovered that many of Walt’s childhood interests came out in his works. He loved fairy tales. He was inspired by Snow White as a youth and later made a now famous animated adaptation of this story (along with many other fairy tale adaptations). He was interested in Abraham Lincoln as a young person. Later he would develop the Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln attraction which led to the current Hall of Presidents at Disney World. Both of these shows feature a mechanized version of Lincoln playing an important role. Walt was a dreamer, and he tried to make those dreams become a reality by constantly trying new methods to improve entertainment. It is important to note that while Walt was in grade school, he dressed up like Lincoln and delivered the Gettysburg Address from memory. The Walt Disney Family Museum website reports that it was so well received that he was asked to perform it for other classes at the school. This success stayed with Walt into his adulthood and was part of his inspiration. This is an excellent example of the impact successful experiences in the classroom can have on students even later in life.
What if Walt Disney had been a classroom teacher? What might his classroom have looked like? How would he have reached his students? What innovations would he have created in the classroom?
While the library media center is not an amusement park or an animated movie, it is an important place to reach the learning community. The school library is a place for sharing and teaching information, literacy, and technology. The library is also a place for connecting people near and far. It is a place for creating new projects and educational products.
After my visit to Walt Disney’s world this past week, I want to strive to “dream big” for students and teachers. Disney constantly thought outside of the norm. That is what I want to do as an educator. I want to seek new and innovative ways to make information and literacy come to life.
I challenge you to get away this summer for a few days. Seek the things that excited your imagination as a young person. Begin to combine some of those things you were passionate about with your current curriculum when possible. If you are passionate, it will be contagious; and you will be more creative.
Of all the quotes I read while at Disney World, this one was my favorite:
"Our greatest natural resource is the minds of our children.” – Walter Elias Disney
This is my mission for 2015-2016: To find new innovative ways to connect people, information, and technology in the library media center.
Thank you, Mr. Disney.
Go here to learn how we used Twitter to inspire students!
Go here to read about Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln on The Walt Disney Family Museum Blog!
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