We hear a lot about the need for educators to be passionate. Teachers must bring passion to their lessons, be passionate about their students, inspire passion in their classrooms, etc. I don’t disagree with any of this, but I think the educational community may have adopted a narrow view of what passionate teaching looks like.
Too Good to Be True
There’s a collective vision of the passionate educator which goes something like this:
- Gregarious personality
- Theatrical and showy
- Loud and funny
- Makes connections with students easily
- Commands the crowd easily
These characteristics can indeed make for a wonderfully passionate educator, but what if that just doesn’t fit who you are? Does that mean you can’t meet the demand of teaching with passion? Absolutely not.
Find Your Passion
There are 2 requirements for becoming a passionate educator:
- Requirement #1: Only passionate people can be passionate educators. You don’t need to love the subject you’re teaching, but you do need to be passionate about big things (about life, about who you are, about why you’re here) and about small things (about fishing, about quilting, or about traveling). The best teachers that I know are interesting, passionate people, first and foremost. They love the kids, they love life, and that combination of magic.
- Requirement #2: Passionate educators know what passionate teaching looks like for them. You needn’t stand on desktops or dress up in costume to reach your students. But you do need to discover what passionate teaching looks like for you. Here’s how. Picture a lesson in your recent past where you were genuinely enjoying yourself. You knew what you were teaching, the kids were engaged, there was an authentic connection between you and the students, and you were all a little lost in the lesson. Picture that. That’s what passionate teaching looks like for you. Maybe it’s your quiet smile that puts everyone at ease. Maybe it’s your interesting hobby that you work into every lesson. Whatever it is, discover it. Do more of it.
So, there’s the rulebook of passionate teaching. As long as you care about something, anything, and as long as you’re willing to channel that in an authentic way, you are just as passionate and effective as you need to be. If that doesn’t fire your kids up, nothing will.