Thursday, March 7, 2013

#Slice 2013: 7 of 31- Passion in Schools?

This month, I am participating in the daily Slice of Life, hosted by two of my favorite bloggers, Ruth Ayres and Stacey Schubitz of Mostly, I have been trying to stick with creative writing this month, but this morning, I also want to write about our family's dinner conversation last week.

We don't have many nights when we are all together because of activities. With four daughters, someone is usually busy. However, Wednesdays and Sundays have become family dinner nights and we usually linger at the table discussing and debating. The girls know and expect (and I think have come to like) that we have conversations on those nights.

Last Wednesday night, we read and discussed a recent post by Angela Maiers about passion and its importance. She wrote that "there is a passion gap in education, and students are falling through it and drowning in ennui." 

The insights that my daughters had during our dinner conversation were amazing. Here are some of the comments and reflections that have stayed with me:
  • My passion is about getting good grades and being successful.
  • Kids have much more passion when it comes to doing things like art, music and sports than they do about regular academics.
  • Teachers who seem passionate about their subjects are much less boring than some of the others.
  • What's passion?

Angela also wrote the following paragraph that reminds me so much of Katherine Sokolowski's recent post about relationships. I couldn't pick the most important part so I am including the entire paragraph:

To lay the groundwork for students to develop passion, teachers must do two things – greet students — by name — when they walk in and hug them (either physically or metaphorically) when they leave. Whatever happens in between, students will remember that you notice them and they mean something to you. Teachers must let students know that they expect that students will accomplish great things. All of this may sound trite, but it is derived from the responses we received when we asked 500,000 students last year, “What would make you run to school?” These responses are not confined to the young; they mirror the results when a similar question was asked of 7,000 adults.
- Angela Maiers

I have other resources, websites, links, and videos that relate to passion. The chapter about authentic learning in Jim Knight's book, High Impact Instruction, is a great resource and Tony Wagner talks about it in a TEDTalk about Play, Passion and Purpose (coinciding with his book, Creating Innovators).

My guess is that if you are reading this post, you have passion about your work, but how does it show in your classrooms or in the classrooms of other people you admire and how can we build passion?


  1. My students tell me that they haven't had a teacher more passionate about books and reading than I am. I hope they also find me passionate about them. Much of my reading lately keeps coming back to the importance of relationships in success.

  2. Funny, I immediately clicked over to read Angela's post and picked out that article as something I agreed with and wanted to think about more. Yes, our kids will work - will be passionate - if they know they are cared for and wanted. It's so sad that some kids come to school and don't feel that way. Thanks for the food for thought this morning.

  3. First Melanie let me say great insight from your daughters! I love those types of conversations when we really listen and hear what young people have to say. I hope that the "biggie" is showing we care about our students . . . because that is one area I feel my colleagues and I do well . . . even if the "tests' don't show it. Thanks for good things to think about!

  4. What a wonderful post. I miss family dinners, because my parents used to actively ask for our input on real issues as well. A passionate teacher can make a huge difference in their students' lives, but so often there's a gap between passion and implementation.

  5. I totally agree with you on this point. Passion is SO important...I am happiest when my grad students tell me they are most inspired by my passion...anyone can tell you the research and we can all learn new ideas...usually on our own...but passion is modeled and contagious!

  6. Whatever happens in between, students will remember that you notice them and they mean something to you. Teachers must let students know that they expect that students will accomplish great things.
    That's it in a nutshell, I think - the reciprocity of trust between teacher and student: we believe in them and work hard to help them believe in themselves. Thanks for this thoughtful post.

  7. Melanie, your post strikes a chord with me. I work with teachers to implement balanced literacy practices in their class and so few of the teachers seem to have a passion for their jobs. It breaks my heart for the kids they encounter every day. They know one thing about me, I am passionate about books, with my books we read and write. Great conversation!
    PS: I am loving Larkin's posts. What a writer!

    1. Thank you for this response, Elsie! Larkin is loving this and it is fun to see her excited.

  8. Passion for my job AND passion for my students... kids really notice these things. When coupled with a passion for helping kids find their OWN passions, we make magic.

  9. Angela's point about greeting our students by name is so true! I go into many classrooms, and I can tell at 10:00 how the children were welcomed at 8:30. Thank you for including the other resources; maybe we'll have a snow day tomorrow and I'll have time to go through them all!