Saturday, August 10, 2013

Putting Passion into Teaching (And Life)


I'm tired... a good percentage of the time.  My tiredness, however, is something I embrace as it is a reminder of a day/week/month well spent, a time lived to its capacity.  Like many educators, I have found myself filling the summer months maximizing time with family and friends and continuously working on school related projects.  This summer has been a busy one, as they inevitable are, between assistant teaching at an EdTech Conference, teaching summer school, and taking three grad classes.  As summer comes to a close, I've started to reflect on what I've learned this summer, my goals for the school year, and how I plan on approaching changes made to curriculum and technology that are being implemented within my district.  I'm rejuvenated, excited, and eager to see where this year leads.

The "back-to-school" buzz is in the air, and I've been spending time this week catching up with a few graduates before they leave for college.  They're excited and ready to venture off to their various destinations.  When asking them about their life, the biggest question they are grappling with is what to do (professionally) with their lives.  That answer often leads to where they will live and what opportunities will ensue as a result.  It such a broad yet important question, and when they ask for my advice, the best words of wisdom I can share is find your passion.

Passion is what keeps us moving when we're exhausted, it is what shines through when teaching a lesson that may not capture everyone's attention in the room, and it is what makes life worth living.  As I interact with students (both former and present), I am reminded that I have the best job in the world; I get to guide kids to their passions.  In order to do that, I have model what it means to live passionately.

One of my favorite education-related books, Well Spoken: Teaching Speaking to All Students by Erik Palmer, talks about speaking with passion.  No matter what the subject matter may be, we all have the power to embed emotions into what we say through inflections or "the life we put into our voices".  Our words are powerful, but how we use and speak them can be even more impactful.  When I want to convince students that writing a research paper is fun (or at least a meaningful experience) or that reading a certain book can inspire great thoughts, I have to speak with enthusiasm; I have to approach each lesson and learning activity with fervor.  If I want students to complete something, then it must be purposefully constructed and must truly be worthwhile to do.

Time is a precious commodity, whether it is classroom time or our lives.  Encouraging students to pursue what they are passionate about allows them to find meaning and value in what they the doing.   As Mitch Albom states in his book Tuesdays with Morrie, "The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning."  I have found my purpose in helping kids find their passions, and if that means I experience a significant lack of sleep, I'm okay with that.



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