When you think about your own best lessons, what do you come up with? It might be a lesson that lasted a few weeks, or one that worked magic on your students in just a couple of periods. It may be a lesson inspired by something you heard at a conference or while talking with a colleague—or one that came to mind while reading a book or attending a play!

One of our favorite things to do is talk with teachers like you to see what makes their classrooms sing—and then share those ideas in our pages. So once again, we are thrilled to present lessons from eight amazing 2018 Teachers of the Year, chosen by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), which works to bring the voices of teachers to the state and national stage.

In the following pages, meet a music teacher who has her young students prepare and teach their own lessons, a second-grade educator who has her kids crumple, smash, and melt substances to explore matter, and a kindergarten teacher who has children mix paint to find their very own skin tone, which could be “rich caramel,” “cafe con leche,” or “French lace.” Happy inspiration!