In our continuing series, we focus on the second quality of a superteacher: passion. Read our Introduction to Superteachers and the first quality, creativity.
In addition to being creative, superteachers are passionate about learning. Yes, this is the most overused, cliched phrase in an educator’s vocabulary. Still, it’s true. Superteachers show their passion for learning because they are constantly learning themselves. They always have a book in their hands and an idea to improve their classes. A superteacher knows his or her job is to learn. In this way, a superteacher never gets bored or stagnant with class because lessons are constantly developing, changing, and improving. A superteacher is excited about learning and about sharing knowledge with others to increase learning exponentially.
In “Developing and Fostering a Passion for Learning and Engagement,” passion is defined as interest, attainment value, flow, and a focus on mastering learning (Source). This scholarly paper suggested that “schools are not structured to foster passion for learning” (Source). This rings true and not only disturbs me, but also makes me wonder why we have an education system in place if it doesn’t even meet the minimum requirement: making students excited about learning.
It all comes back to the teacher as the presenter, the vessel of information. Students aren’t excited about learning because the instructor isn’t excited about teaching. John C. Maxwell’s Everyone Communicates, Few Connect: What The Most Effective People Do Differently is a study on communicating ideas effectively. His Chapter 4 is titled “Connecting Always Requires Energy,” and he’s right. For teachers to effectively convey a message to their students, they must put in authentic energy and passion. The students will only get out of the lesson what the teacher puts in.
I get it: teachers are burned out. After a long, eight-hour day of helping over a hundred students, the energy drains, and the passion fizzles. Professional development should be a time to recharge, learn new things, and become excited about teaching again. Professional development should be a space where brainstorming and sharing ideas occur so teachers can refocus, renew, and reengage.
Because Professional Development is typically the opposite of an exciting, idea-sharing forum, teachers should do something each afternoon to recharge. For example, at the end of the day, I need to exercise. A three-mile run, some yoga, or an hour of dancing at Zumba may be all it takes to get you refocused and ready to show your energy or passion again the next day. Often, and often after exercise, I need a few minutes of alone time reading or writing. Whatever you do, make certain it’s constructive. Sitting in front of the television and mindlessly watching terrible reality TV is not the ticket. You must put the time in to take care of yourself so that you can nurture your passion. Why?
Because students need you to be passionate about teaching your subject in order for them to be passionate about learning that subject. The essence of leadership is passion. Harvard Business School’s Jonathan Byrnes says that there are “eight essential characteristics” of a strong leader (Source). The first, of course, is passion. Byrnes writes, “First and foremost, you need a burning drive to make things better” (Source). So as a thought-leader and teacher, your job is to keep that passion alive for your subject to best serve your students.
Teachers: how do you recharge to ensure you keep the passion alive for your subject?