Birthday #8

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Eight years ago today I brought these beautiful babes into this world.  They were a little early, but seemed just perfect to us.  Three months later we learned that Jacob had Spinal Muscular Atrophy type I; he was only expected to live a couple of month; they gave me a death sentence.  And here we are, 8 years later.

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I am so proud to be the Mommy of such strong, independent, resilient children!  Here’s to a great year!

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Passion in Education

When did PASSION become a 4 letter word?

I have had several end of year meetings and in each, someone mentions that “People just don’t understand your passion until they get to know you- instead it comes across as aggression”. Well, isn’t that what the word PASSION means in a sense? Passion “strong and barely controllable emotion”. The suggestion is to temper my approach-and seriously, I don’t know if I can.

I have passion about teaching.

I have passion about engaging every single student in my classroom-and your classroom-and the classroom 2 floors down-because if those babies are engaged in your classroom, by the time they get to mine it will be habit. If I have to use a contemporary book or movie to address standards, I CAN do that-not because I like the movie, but because I can see a connection between the dystopian idea of conformity in Divergent and contrast that with the Transcendentalists’ idea of non-conformity and make Thoreau accessible to my kids. This doesn’t make my class easier because I have stepped away from the canon; it makes my students more aware that those who thought before still apply today-and they are engaged. And seriously, who really gets Thoreau in high school? When I have a student, who tried like the dickens NOT to pay attention all semester, sit and tell me about Transcendentalism because he CAN-that feeds my passion! These kinds of responses from kids is like a drug that I can’t get enough of. You want an addiction-try student engagement and success-you will never get enough of that!

 

I have passion about how teachers are perceived in my state. This is my career choice. I want to be respected by parents, friends, and the lady in the grocery store, just like I respected all my teachers. I don’t want people to look at me and think, “Sorry you couldn’t do anything better.” You treat teachers with little respect and you will run out of teachers. I am amazed at the number of second year teachers leaving the profession. And that is what this younger generation will do-if it isn’t for them, they don’t stick it out to see if it will get better. They make a change and fix it for themselves. Good for them, bad for public education.

 

I have passion about making changes in the way I perceive the world, so that I can appreciate the world my students live in. Yes, phones are annoying in class-except when I need to them to look something up. Oh and when I want them to respond on a Padlet wall or to a Socrative question-oh wait, we need to do SnapShot on Edmodo. So when is the phone annoying in class? When they get off task and check their text messages, Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, Instagram…there are a ton of things to get them off task-and if I think about it, those things get us (teachers) off task in meetings or groups, right? So, if I want my students to learn how to be digitally responsible in my classroom should I get angry and ditch all technology? No, I reflect on my lesson and ask myself “Why did they get off task?” It may not have even been my lesson-it could have been that Katherine got a bad grade in her previous class or Mark broke up with his girlfriend, and they were using their form of stress relief – social media – to rectify the situation within. Or it could be my lesson was horrid and needs to be fixed-PASSION drives this reflection and need to relate with my students.

 

I have passion when working with my colleagues in our PLC. I spend hours each week reading about new technology, ways to differentiate, ideas for PBLs, resources for independent test prep, news ways of engaging students…I forward some articles, tweet some, some hit my Facebook page, and some I print out and bring to meetings. I am passionate about teaching and sharing the really cool things I find. Just because I want to share information about Edmodo every time they do something new and innovative that helps my students, doesn’t mean I am being aggressive. I have found a tool that works like a dream in my classes, and I want to share it with you so you can try it too. Every new app or tool on the site, gives me more passion to share the benefits. When a colleague complains about off-task behavior, and I share the newest buzz word “backchanneling” as a possible solution, this doesn’t mean I am saying your way doesn’t work and mine is better-just that this way might help. Believe me, everything I do in my classroom doesn’t work…sometimes I fail miserably. The first time I tried backchanneling with Padlet Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, and Yoda started responding in the online discussion-not the best experience, but they were engaged! I learned from the experience and will probably not try it again on the last day of classes-but I like the idea and want to share it with you.

 
I have passion about data. Data tells me what I am doing right in my classes and what I need to do better. By comparing my data with the data of my peers, we can determine who has the best resources for any particular standard or whose approach might be working the best. Data is important, and I might go beyond passionate and be aggressive about data. But, after 11 years in teaching, I know what to do with data and the importance it has in my lesson planning and decision making. So if I insist that my PLC (of fairly new teachers) work within the data model, it is because I have a passion for this part of teaching. I don’t want to shove it down their throats, I want them to allow me to show them “how” to use these endless checks or meaningless numbers to make them better teachers. I am passionate about helping teachers understand the benefits of data.

 

Passion is a valuable trait in today’s education. Things are moving quickly. Times are changing. The way we communicate is changing. The skills these kids will need in the world are changing. And having the passion to reflect on the profession and see what changes need to made is important. So, maybe instead of being irritated by that teacher who is constantly posting, presenting at meetings, or copying articles about education (educational change), we should appreciate her passion for her career, her kids, her school, her colleagues-give her a minute to get it all out and figure out what we can take from her passion to make us better in our professional pursuits.

Teaching isn’t a competition, it is a collaborative experience among like-minded people.

And, honestly, PASSION is a 7 letter word.