So passion. This is the first time I've really considered that, as teachers, we bring more than one type of passion into our classrooms. Once I read that, I thought...well of course we do! I just never thought to break it out into three distinct types of passion.
Content passion: I love teaching. I mean I REALLY love teaching, so there isn't much in terms of content that I don't have a passion for. I was originally a marine biology major in college so science is definitely an area of passion for me. Okay, maybe I don't have a passion for teaching students about the periodic table of the elements, but I think that's because I'm not convinced that it's important for 5th graders to know the difference between a group and a period. Do they really need to know if iridium is a metal or a nonmetal? I think not. Social Studies is another subject I love to teach. There are so many interesting personal stories behind the major historical events that we discuss in fifth grade. The content offers fabulous opportunities to discuss personal motivation as well as conflict and resolution.
Professional passion: I have always told myself that as soon as I lose the passion for what I do as a teacher, it's time to find something else to be passionate about. That doesn't mean that there aren't days, sometimes weeks, when that passion seems to be ebbing. But I love what I do. I love that I have the opportunity to making learning exciting for children. I am passionate about creating a learning environment that is a safe place for my students to take risks and make mistakes without the fear of failure. I am passionate about showing my students, most of whom live well below the poverty line, that there are possibilities for them that are beyond their imaginations. I am passionate about helping each and every one of my students reach their full potential. A card that I received at the end of this year reminded me why the career that I've chosen is so important.
Personal Passion: I have a passion for learning about and trying new things. This works well with our profession. I definitely have a 'let's try it' attitude about life. I'm not terribly afraid of failure and certainly don't let it get in the way of me trying something new. When I come across something (think periodic table of the elements) that I'm not passionate about teaching, I love the challenge of finding a way to bring a dry subject or standard to life. Another passion of mine is reading. Reading this chapter reminded me that anytime I can find some reading passage, current event, or tidbit of interesting information that supports whatever standard we're working on, I need to find a way to use it. When I've been able to do that, it has made the content that much more relevant to my students.
The assignment of breaking passion into three separate areas has helped me add to my arsenal for those days when I'm faced with feeling more than a bit mediocre in the classroom. Instead of throwing my hands up in the air and declaring that I know longer have the passion for this, I can reach into my quiver, pull out a different arrow of passion, and take aim.