3 Ways to find and reclaim your passion for teaching
Teaching is a passionate profession: it demands a love of learning, a love of people, and a passion for intellectual and emotional engagement. So what happens…what does it mean…when we don’t particularly feel passionate about our work?
First of all, it means that we are completely normal. If this doesn’t comfort you, you may find solace in Dave Burgess’s book, Teach Like a PIRATE: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator. Below you’ll find three of his strategies for reclaiming your passion.
What excites you about your area of expertise (finding your content passion)?
Let’s face it, rarely are teachers passionate about all of the content they’re expected to teach. We’ve yet to meet an English teacher who holds an unwavering passion for teaching students how to create a works cited page or a math teacher who is simply nuts about pi. Teachers certainly understand the significance of these concepts, but that doesn’t mean that they are fanatical about them—and that’s OK.
Instead of dreading the content you are less interested in, create an authentic and relevant learning experience that would heighten your own interest in the topic. Then, when it comes to the “stuff” that truly gets you energized, approach it with even greater ferocity; delve into it deeply and creatively. This will help get you through the content you are less interested in.
What is it about being an educator that drives you? Why did you become a teacher in the first place (finding your professional passion)?
When the content fails to excite you, remember why you became a teacher in the first place. Remember your passion for creating life-long learners, for helping students increase their self-esteem and find their talents.
Regardless of the subject or standard, inject the content with a life-changing lesson or cooperative group task, something that helps students build self-confidence and learning engagement.
A lesson on Abraham Lincoln or Rosa Parks will contain biographic facts, dates and the like. But when those facts and dates are injected with a life-changing lesson, they become stories about persistence and overcoming adversity; they become, as Burgess suggests, “examples of how ordinary people with strong convictions, and the courage to act on those convictions, can transform history.”
What do you like outside of your profession (finding your personal passion)?
To keep your passion for teaching alive, Burgess suggests that you bring your personal interests into the classroom. He, for example, is passionate about magic and whenever he can use it to illustrate a point, he takes that opportunity. Not only does that help him create a more engaging and memorable lesson, it also helps increase his sense of fulfillment and fun as an educator.
Nearly any personal passion can be incorporated into the classroom. Do you play an instrument? Bring it in and play it for your students. Are you passionate about technology? Use it and teach your students to use it. Because you are teaching from an area of strength, personal enthusiasm will help you create more dynamic lessons so that students see “how their [own] unique skill set and passions can be vital, invaluable, and applicable for their future.”