Wednesday, September 13, 2017

3 Ways to Find Your Passion for Teaching (Again)

It happens to almost every teacher.  There comes a place in our career that the passion just isn't there.  We forget why we do what we do.  We become frustrated by expectations, paperwork, and standardized testing.  We begin to fear that our voices cannot be heard and we begin to do day after day what we know isn't working and isn't best for our students.

Teachers know what students need.  There is something that we all have that drives us to want the best for our learners and causes us to come back every day even when we feel defeated.  That something is passion.  It might be a passion for impacting the future, a passion for pouring into the lives of your students, or a passion for engaging and empowering today's learners.  Whatever that passion is, it exists and plays a role in how and what we do every single day in our classroom.

Even though I believe that passion exists in every teacher, I also believe that it can become stifled.  The flame flickers and we begin to worry that it might actually be extinguished if we can't find a way to reignite the flame soon.

The good news is, that flame can be reignited, and not just reignited but set ablaze if you will take the steps to actively pursue the passion that you once you had.  So, how does that happen?  How do you find your way back to being the teacher you want to be instead of the teacher that you are expected to be?  How do you become the teacher that your students need?

In thinking about how I found my passion again, I realized that there were three things that helped me find my way again.  I began to take risks, I found my tribe, and began to share my story.  In doing so, teaching became fun again, I began to realize I wasn't in this alone, and I began to understand the value of my story and classroom experience.

So, if you feel like that flame is flickering, take a deep breath, embrace the struggle, and do what you need to do find your way again.

Take Risks - Taking risks is not easy. Seth Godin says, "If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try."  How often do you do things in your classroom that scare you?  Honestly, if you are consistently comfortable teaching this generation of learners, you're doing it wrong.  Because things are changing so quickly and these learners are so different because of their instant access to information, we should all be a little uncomfortable.  With discomfort, comes the need to move, to change.  Allow your discomfort to push you outside of that comfort zone and take the risks that you know are worth taking for you and your students.  Be willing to learn with them and do whatever it takes to make the learning meaningful and relevant every single day.

Find your Tribe - Being a connected educator changes everything.  Finding your people, knowing them well, and trusting them enough to share and grow together is a game changer.  Like-minded people give you the boost and support that you need to stretch yourself as an educator.  In connecting, you begin to see what education can be instead of what it is in your classroom, on your campus, or in your district.  Finding your tribe gives you a support system that encourages you, pushes you, and supports you to do the hard things.  And when you begin to the hard things,  you begin to realize that challenges are opportunities to learn and grow as you move toward finding your passion for teaching again.

Share your Story - We are better together!  Education is hard.  Teaching is mentally and sometimes physically exhausting.  It's not easy to bring your A game every day and it's even harder to develop original ideas on a consistent basis.  So, it's a good thing you don't have to.  So many educators are sharing their stories.  It might be on Twitter, it might be a blog, it might even be through sharing your experience at a conference.  It doesn't matter how, but find ways to share what you are doing in your classroom.  Share what works...share what doesn't work.  Just share!  In doing so, you will begin to see that reflection is imperative for you as an educator and gives you an opportunity to see your teaching from a different perspective.  And let's face it, if you don't share your story, someone else will!

There's a lot that we can complain about as educators in today's classrooms.  But the reality is that there has never been a better time to be a teacher.  Let's step back from the negativity, own who we are as educators, and begin to do whatever it takes to provide our students with meaningful learning experiences that will engage and empower. Our students deserve passionate teachers that believe in them and all that they bring to the table.  Passionate educators create passionate learners that have the potential to change the world.


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