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The Teacher Who Created A Unique Handshake For Each Pupil And 9 Other Inspirational Videos

Amidst the doom and gloom of grammar schools, workload, the recruitment crisis and whatever else the world of education has planned, let's take a minute to celebrate the good and great of teaching

  • The Teacher Who Created A Unique Handshake For Each Pupil And 9 Other Inspirational Videos

We all know that most news, and most education news, is typically the negative stuff. That’s not necessarily a criticism, we’re part of that here at Teachwire. You’d hope that the point of that is to right those wrongs, to raise awareness of issues that need fixing.

This is why workload, teacher stress, grammar school plans and under-performing schools have dominated the headlines for what seems like forever now. Since Gove and levels probably.

It’s always a joy to be able to celebrate the good aspects of teaching though. We know that every day people in schools are doing wonders trying to improve the life chances or our nation’s kids, often under extreme pressure and with limited funding.

So when we saw a viral video here of a teacher in Charlotte, North Carolina, who every morning performs a special and unique handshake with each of his students (yep, they all get their own personalised greeting) it seemed like the perfect opportunity to spread some of that love for educators that is often sorely lacking in the media.

He is called Barry White, it’s no surprise he’s the cool teacher

In honour of Barry (the teacher, not the singer), we’ve rounded up more viral videos of teachers whose gestures, no matter how big or small, have made a big difference in children’s lives.

No doubt yours do too, and it’s good to remind yourselves of that from time to time.

1. “It’s Gonna Be a Good Day”

This is Bethany Humphrey, who starts every day with a positive, fun song-and-dance routine (check out more on her YouTube channel). Any cynicism you might have melts away pretty soon into the video as you see the enthusiasm she has for it, and how that rubs off on the kids.

2. “You, sir, are an amazing student”

Another teacher who became an online smash through the power of positivity was Surfer Jesus, or as he’s known in real life, Chris Ulmer, from Jacksonville, Florida. Each of the eight students in his class have special educational needs, and each and every morning he opens the day with 10 minutes of compliments for them. Just watch:

That kid who responds to “You’re a great soccer player” with “I know” has just overtaken Han Solo for best use of those two words.

You can read about Chris’ story here, or visit his Facebook page, Special Books by Special Kids, where he shares stories of children with special needs in order to fight stigmas around the world.

3. “I’m gonna push through”

More growth mindset-style positive thinking here, this time from Jasmyn Wright, founder of The Push Through Organization, who engages children in a little call and response to dispel any notion that they’re unable to achieve and succeed in life. Just watch:

“Barack Obama”
“He pushed through”
“Rosa Parks”
“She pushed through”

Simple. Amazing.

Jasmyn, I know it’s a long way, and I can’t afford to pay for your travel, but if you’d like to come and stand opposite my desk at 9am on a Monday morning to go through this routine I will happily take part.

4. “It’s good to cry so you can work through that emotion”

Pushing through in a more literal way, this video features Sharath Jason Williams, instructor of Mūsar Rū (meaning ‘discipline of the spirit’) which uses martial arts and meditation to teach that discipline, and a young boy performing an initiation. You may have some thoughts and feelings on youngsters punching through physical objects, but that aside the way this boy’s struggles are handled are genuinely moving.

Read more on this story here.

5. “I didn’t think it’d reach this far”

Talking of great lessons worth learning, Melissa Bour teaches maths and science to the sixth-grade (age 11-12) science and math in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but it’s a social media message that made her famous online.

Having seen more and more of her students posting inappropriate images online, she decided that ‘show, don’t tell’ would be the most effective way to get her point across:

She managed to do for risque selfies in her class what Jaws did to a generation of would-be beach goers.

6. “I ask my kids if they’ve eaten that morning”

Many teachers go out of their way for children, and Sonya Romero from Albuquerque, New Mexico, is no exception. She makes sure kids haven’t gone hungry each day, and that they have suitable clothes to wear. But that’s not what landed her on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. This is, and it’s truly what you would call ‘above and beyond’:

7. “I am willing to put my life on the line”

You might call this questionable teaching, but given that the lecturer is Walter Lewin Puts his faith in science over his own personal safety. Walter Lewin, previously of the world’s top-ranked university the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, I guess the question has been thoroughly thought through and answered.

So while your trust in him to have done the calculations to eliminate all risk is strong, seeing a miniature wrecking ball swing towards his face is still very much a watch-through-your-fingers event.


8. Ka mate! Ka mate! Ka ora! Ka ora!

Often young people won’t appreciate the effect you have on their lives until many years later. And unless they try to reach you on social media often they’ll never be able to show their appreciation. But that doesn’t lessen the impact you’ve had on their lives.

As evidence, just look at the sendoff these New Zealand youngsters give to one of their teachers, Dawson Tamatea, performing a mass as his hearse is driven to the school.

9. “I’m now doing what I love, and I’m doing it because of you”

One of the many joys of the internet now is the ability to connect people in this way. So when Acting on a Dream decided to suprise teachers with messages from ex-students the results were as lovely as you’d expect.


So, while we’re at it, here’s a personal extra video on the list. This is Liz Bailey, here she with Michael Morpurgo after winning the Outstanding New Teacher Award 2012.

I was fortunate enough to have her teach me American Literature for a year while she was doing her PhD at The University of Essex, and even more fortunate to be able to call her a friend afterwards.

There are other teaches I could, and should, thank, but none of those have a neat video I can post in this feature. So watch this one here to see why Liz won Outstanding New Teacher.

Thanks, Liz.


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