Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Passionate Teaching...It Shouldn't Surprise Your Students

From the title of my blog it should be clear that promoting passionate teaching is central to my "teaching identity".  In my opinion, a "teaching identity" is how one defines everything that is central to who they are as a teacher, from philosophies on discipline and homework to the work one puts into crafting relationships with students.  While approaches to teaching will always differ (and this is not only fine, it's great), one trait must underlie the identity of all teachers- passion for the craft, passion for the students.

I would ask any teacher- Do you know how lucky you are to do what you do?  Are you aware of the incredible gift you have in each of your students?  I know that there are innumerable obstacles to teaching that can threaten one's ability to keep the passion alive.  Teacher pay, the focus on standardized tests, frustrations with parents, etc...the list grows fast.  I get it.  I feel these frustrations as much as anyone else.  I get it.  But I have never been able to understand someone who can't feel hope when they look at their students.  I can't tell you how many times I've found myself in a rut, when I have told myself "You are not doing a good job."  It happens to me every year.  And every year I am saved by the same people- my kiddos.  It goes without saying that I am both thankful to my and for my students.  How can we not be filled with a passionate desire to serve the kids to the best of our ability? They deserve that!

And shouldn't that passion for the craft, and passion for the kids, be demonstrable?  I was in the middle of a discussion with a class recently, and the kids were blowing me away (as they so often do) with not only how well they had grasped the topic for our discussion, but for how they were connecting the dots in such ways to point out great branches of thought, at times beyond what I had considered.  Needless to say, I was amped.  It's hard not to be when you teach amazing kiddos.  When I get amped I tend to get animated (it has to be quite a sight...talking with my hands, talking fast...oh my!) A student seated near me started chuckling, to which I apologized (I can only imagine it was annoying).  The student responded by saying, "It's fine.  You are just so passionate about what you do." I was, of course, flattered by that comment, but noticed the faint layer of surprise in her tone. Should she, or any other student, be surprised that teachers are passionate for their job, for their students? To borrow a line from one of my favorite bands, Led Zeppelin, "It makes me wonder."

What are you doing each day to show your students the passion you have for your work?  What are you doing to make sure your students know that the root of that passion is them?


  1. Thanks for posting. I try and show students my passion by taking preparation seriously and developing my lessons to the best of my ability.

  2. Thanks for the thought Anthony! I applaud you for your efforts! Shouldn't the kids expect this kind of passion out of every teacher?!

  3. Yes, yes, yes! I have the tendency to go overboard when I get excited too, but I think it is important to show the students that I LOVE what I do. You are right: they deserve it. I look at it from the flip side as a parent. What type of teacher do I want my children to have? A passionate one! It should be the norm, not a surprise.

    1. Thanks so much Susan! I'm not sure the students are surprised with me, but perhaps not enough of us are putting ourselves out there. I want kids who are shocked when a teacher DOESN'T demonstrate excitement!