We know, inherently, that passion is extremely important to having a fulfilling life. No one sets out in their day to “play small” as Nelson Mandela put it. The dream of our hearts is to make a deep impact on something we truly care about. We want to live on purpose and with passion.
What does that look like for a wholehearted teacher?
We are in the middle of a blog series on the Top 10 Habits of Wholehearted Teachers. This week’s topic is Cultivating Your Passion as a Teacher.
Reflect for a moment about the last time you felt passion in your role as a teacher. What were you doing? Were you working with one student, a small group, the whole class? Were you teaching about a subject you love? Were you helping a student to have one of those “light bulb moments”?
- What was important about the moment?
- What about that moment stirred your passion?
Now, still thinking about that moment – how long ago was it? Has it been a long time since you’ve felt this way? Or do you get moments to exercise your passion often?
My passion as a teacher is helping students to wonder. Wonder evokes depth of thought. I love getting students to think more deeply or in new ways. I love when I can see their “wheels” turning inside their heads. I love when what we’ve done as a class has challenged their thinking. I love watching them wrestle with ideas and think about the nuances of an issue.
As a teacher, I lived for those moments. But wondering and wrestling takes time. It goes deep. And unfortunately, most of our school day was dictated by schedules and rules about fidelity to curriculum.
I had to fight for time to share my passion and cultivate students’ sense of wonder. I didn’t win that battle every day, but the days that I was able to slow down and dig deep with students were the days I walked away feeling more energized leaving school than I did walking in.
Now, looking back on it, I’m glad I fought for the time. I’m glad I diverged and prioritized depth over breadth. I knew it was best for them, but what I underestimated was how good it was for me.
We know this: exercising our passion is amazing for our students! They see us light up. Our energy shifts and the energy of the entire classroom shifts. They get excited too. They share in our passion.
But exercising our passion is also amazingly important for our resilience as their teacher.
Teaching is a difficult and often frustrating job. But when we think about why we got in to the profession, it was so that we could share our passion (a love of learning, being a catalyst for change, a sense of wonder etc.) with our students.
So if we don’t share our passion on a regular basis – we will burn out.
Worse, our students won’t see passion exercised.
Passion is a soul-baring feat. Exercising our passion is an act of vulnerability. And for this reason – exercising passion in the classroom is the work of a wholehearted teacher.
Exercising passion on a regular basis:
- helps you fight burnout
- allows your students to see vulnerability, courage, and love modeled
- is inherently engaging for students because they sense your passion and share in it
- can probably lead to amazing test scores (okay – admittedly I made that one up – but maybe it’s not too far off)
The thing is – we get so wrapped up in our schedules and curriculum fidelity and making our admins happy (etc.) that we forget (or don’t have time) to infuse our passion into our craft. But as a wholehearted teacher – you MUST find a way to bring your passion into your craft.
So here is your challenge:
- Reflect some more about what brings out your passion in teaching (this may be harder if it’s been dormant a while – but the exercise is worth the outcome – I promise)
- Reflect on one or two ways (specific lessons etc.) that you can infuse your passion into your work in the next two weeks. (Write it down now!!!)
- Commit to this – don’t skip it.
- Come back and leave a comment and let me know how it goes. What energy change did you feel? Do you think your students felt it? I want to know!!!
Remember: “Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” -Oprah Winfrey
~Alison, A Teacher’s Best Friend
Check out these other posts that are part of the 10 Habits of Wholehearted Teachers Series: