(This is step three in the free Teacher 2.0 course/"experience" at Mightybell - participate at https://mightybell.com/experiences/3ff5259e1c4d9948-Teacher-2-0.)
Write something you love doing or something you love learning about. You are not limited to one thing!
Some questions to ponder:
I love to travel! I can remember just not caring about history and taking a foreign language. Why????? I just didn't get it. When I graduated high school, I had the opportunity to travel with People to People to Europe. Suddenly, I found myself wishing I had paid attention in class. Standing next to the Berlin Wall and reading it brought history alive. Trying to find my way back to the hotel without being able to speak French in Belgium made me want to kick myself for at least not remembering basic phrases. I met many great people too, and for the first time really started thinking critically & viewing things from others' perspectives. Suddenly, I saw the connections from learning to the world and the world was a much more diverse and interesting place. I think that is why I also like technology so much - I can use it to help bring those connections and experiences into my classroom when I can't take my students out into the world.
I am passionate about teaching as well, but I would say that teaching is really a talent - that I have become passionate about because it is something I do well & can incorporate with my number one passion of travel.
Kellie, as a language teacher myself, I completely understand! If language and history (or any other subjects, for that matter) don't feel relevant and practical, it's hard to be motivated to learn them in depth. Of course, that's a challenge for us as teachers -- to find ways to connect the content to our students' needs, interests, talents, and passions.
Here's what I wrote on the Mightybell forum:
I love learning about new ways to help my students learn! I also love learning about how things work at the "systems" level, and I love cooking things for people who enjoy them. As I think about it, they're all connected to each other. They all bring me joy because I have a deeper understanding of something (even when I make a favorite recipe again, I find I understand it better!). They also bring me joy for at least two other reasons. First, they help me help others, which is really important to me. Second, they make people's lives easier or better in some way.
Like most of us who've responded, I also love helping others (students, colleagues, friends of all ages) learn how to use a new technological tool in ways that are meaningful for them. And I truly love helping to build the joyful learning communities I talked about in my response to Action 2. I say "helping" because a community isn't a one-person job; everyone who participates in a community helps to build it in some way. I love guiding and helping others as they find their own passions and talents, and as they see ways to bring their passions and talents into a community and help it grow and improve.
I signed up for the MIghtybell Teacher 2.0 Experience because I was starting to feel trapped between my passions, on the one hand, and the reality of the 20th-century school environment where I spend my days, on the other. Within that context, I have tried really hard to build a 21st-century learning community with my students -- but it's really difficult! They come to me from classes where the textbook, the notebook, and the worksheet are still king, and after 90 minutes or so they leave me and return to those environments. It's very hard to change your whole paradigm for 90 minutes a day, then change it back on command!
Interestingly enough, when I talk to my colleagues, they're mostly dissatisfied with their 20th-century approach -- or at least with the results they've been getting from it recently. And a lot of them, like me, are working hard to leave the 20th-century school behind. But it's really hard to change your fundamental paradigm, and it's even harder when that paradigm has created a school that, by all measures, is "very good." And yet, don't we want something better than "very good?"
I understand your frustration as I am in a similar situation. What I often question is, what is our school good at? 20th century education which is what is assessed on our current assessments? What 21st century skills are we not assessing? How well would we do on those? I think we would not fair well on performance based problem solving tasks where students had to work in groups, use a variety of resources, and solve a real life problem.
I think about this a lot--and about the "narratives' that underlie cultural practices, and the difficulty of finding a new narrative that will engage a broader consensus around education change.
I absolutely love to learn about how to use educational technology to inspire students and teachers! I love to see the joy on their faces and the awe in their voices as they are successful in using technology to do something they could not otherwise do. In my current job as a special education teacher, I don't always have the chance to use technology as much as I would like. We do a lot of team teaching in the regular classroom. While I do try to influence the classroom teachers into using more technology, it is ultimately their classroom. The two teachers I co-teach with the most this year are willing to try many new things. I really like that. They know my passion is ed tech and the students know that too...along with my passion for math! My students love technology! Very few of them choose paper and pencil over technology. I think passions are what you love to do while talents are what you are really good at. Sometimes, they are both for a person and that allows them to soar and be happy. Sometimes, someone can have passion for something...like singing...but not have the talent for it. That can sometimes be frustrating.
The singing situation--that would be me! :) What age are your students? I wonder if it might not be fun to skype in some cool math folks into the classroom?!
Human development is valuable in my life. Communication is my passion. My students know it. I try to search in their passions in life. Everyone has a different gift... all are important. Diversity is great.
~ growing, admiring, photographing flowers; carefully picking and designing floral bouquets and arrangements to give to others
~ walking and photographing in natural settings, walking in lovingly cultivated garden areas
~ reading and writing
~ intentional dialogue groups
My paternal grandmother taught me to identify flowers, observe their preferred growing conditions -- beginning at a very early age. This love of flowers has been a strong steadfast joy in my life ever since. Most people who have met me know this about me -- often at the very first meeting!
I was privileged to grow up on a 32-acre farm (agricultural farm) with 3 ponds, two creeks, woods, fields (with Native American arrowheads turning up once in awhile!), and with parents, an uncle, grandparents, and two other nature-loving families living on those 32 acres along with my family. Ample opportunities to explore nature, learn from nature, abounded. In addition, my dad planned wonderful family outings and camping trips to explore beyond our farm.
My dad was an avid reader, my mom read to us frequently. Our home included a substantial library. I recall being quite proud of my 'always with a nose in a book' status, and striving to borrow and read more books than anyone else my age from school and local libraries. Currently, I continue to read an average of 3 or more novels per week.
Intentional dialogues: Sometimes I'm accused of not knowing how to have fun (but do not believe this is an accurate accusation) because I prefer meaningful activity over meaningless activity most of the time. Meaningfulness is subjective, at least to some degree.
I've been teased because I often actually like meetings (well-organized, well-facilitated meetings).
I like learning opportunities.
I like listening to people speak about their passions, their compassions.
Freshman year discussions -- sitting with classmates on sofas, chairs, floors, bunk beds -- sharing as we probed philosophical questions: loved it!
Anti-racism Undoing racism / Dialogue on race groups have been important, still are important, in my life.
Intercultural groups, Parent groups, class assignment groups, community groups, all of these and more = fit into the realm of what I refer to as intentional dialogue. And while I agree that talking is not enough, I also passionately believe that intentional dialogue is a needed part of any process of change.
I would be surprised if people didn't recognize my passions and compassions fairly quickly; a poker-face I have not! This is true for 'students' as well as colleagues or any other citizen of the world I might meet.
Passions and talents: how are they different? I'm smiling as I read this question, think about my response to this question, smiling because the two words/meanings hadn't crossed paths in my mind until I read the question.
I do have some talent at floral design, at speed-reading, comprehension, teaching reading, writing, listening, caring, building community. But I believe it's my passions that enable those talents to emerge. There are a few people who seem to have innate talents, but unless those talents are presented, explored, shared, developed with a passion at their core, they lack meaningfulness.
Do I spend as much time 'as I need to' focusing on my passions? hmmm.... If I were given the scale of "rarely / sometimes / usually / always" I would respond, "Usually."
Compassions generate and perpetuate meaningfulness.
Pursuing my passions generates healing, healing generates energy to persist in following, acting upon my compassions.
Very interesting challenge; thank you!
Great response, Holly!
My family would quickly say that I'm the intentional dialog guy--every dinner conversation, family discussion--I'm always working some topic or learning opportunity... :)
I love food, cooking, and trying new foods whenever possible--I also love to cook with children. I find that they are more willing to try new things when they have a hand in preparing them. Last year I was able to combine my loves of food, cooking, and teaching into our theme of the year. My students and I found ways to tie cooking into many of the things we were studying and in the process they learned about nutrition and tried many foods they hadn't had before.
This year, as a new Media Specialist, I am able to share my love of technology and using it to create, communicate, and collaborate with many of the students in my school. We are starting small, but will eventually be working individually and in groups on projects, talking with experts in the fields of math, science, and social studies, and we have already begun using Edmodo to communicate with each other about the things we are learning. This is exciting stuff!
You're students are lucky. We're addicted in our family to the cooking competition reality shows--we love watching the hard work and creativity that are showcased!