In my part of the world, there is a quaint restaurant that many people don’t know about. And, to be perfectly honest, I really like it that way. It’s cozy and unpretentious. It’s quirky and unique. This place has so many wonderful things going for it. The food is delicious and the in-house brewed beer is some of the best. But, there is something even more notable that really makes this place shine. It’s Mary.
Mary is one of several wonderful servers there. She is the one person I look for immediately upon entering. Because if Mary is serving, you know you are going to have service that stands out among the very best.
This recently got me thinking about the experience Mary provides and how similar it is to that of an outstanding teacher. What is it exactly that makes the service she provides stand out–and how does this parallel exceptional teaching?
I think it broadly comes down to these three things–personality, passion, and a personalized experience.
Think about that favorite teacher. This special person left an impression upon you that still exists to this day. Many may argue that personality has very little to do with learning content, but I would disagree. I think that learning and motivation go hand in hand. And how do we best motivate our students? We make them want to return each and every day. You create a classroom that can only exist in the space that you occupy. If standing on your desk and reciting Shakespeare is your thing, do it loudly and proudly. Maybe you use humor and jokes to keep them interested–get them laughing! If it’s connecting with students in ways that make them feel uniquely valued–solidify those bonds. Being YOU has the power to make them want to keep coming back, so find your thing and do it in a way that only you can.
Mary loves what she does – and that is evident to all in her presence. Passionate teachers do the same. They exude an enthusiasm for their craft–and you know it’s there the moment you walk in. This passion drives their instruction and one can’t help but to be whisked away into a sea of inspiration. When I think of one of my most passionate teachers – I think of my high school art teacher, Mrs. Crandell. Surprisingly, she wasn’t loud or exuberant. She had a very calm demeanor, yet inspired young artists simply by sharing her skills and know-how in a way that made all of us believe we could create just about anything. She LOVED teaching and she had this uncanny ability to make art history a topic we all craved learning more about. When one’s craft is rooted in passion, it’s hard to imagine that anything less than greatness will come of it.
Every time I walk into this restaurant, Mary warmly greets me by name. She also knows that, depending on the specific day of the week, what I choose to order may be different, and she makes suggestions accordingly. She has never made me feel like an average customer. Instead, I am one of her customers. And that sense of belonging, that individualized experience, that personal connection, keeps me coming back.
That same experience happens in classrooms every day. We really get to know our students– their needs, their quirks, their challenges, and their abilities. Our teaching becomes not so much about the content, but instead about how we can teach that content in a way that is engaging and effective for every single learner in our class.
That saying we hear often, “You be you.” Do that. Yet do it in a way that can’t be replicated. Do it with passion and in ways that create personalized experiences for every single student that is lucky enough to have you as their teacher. In essence…Be Mary. Because regardless of how the rest of their day is going, or the challenges and struggles they are forced to tackle, it is YOU that can, and will, motivate them to want to show up every single day.
What about you? what are your thoughts about encouraging passionate teaching?
*Today’s image comes from Amelia Bedelia, get your copy today!