Have you ever failed a course and passed it? I have.
My freshman year of university I took an economics course and failed every single exam. And when I say failed, I mean FAILED 50% or less! However, because the professor graded on a curve I received an A in the course. He said it was because he was a “hard professor.” I was #Mindblown by that response and quickly realised he had lost his passion as an educator and this was not an institution I wanted to spend my money on, so I transferred.
Think about it, do you really want to learn from someone who is so disconnected from and passionless about education that all students in the course fail and yet pass?
The reality is, this is a reality in a lot of institutions.
So how do we as educators remain actively energetic and passionate in our own learning and self-improvement so that we can stay at the top of our game, no matter how long we stay in it?
Here are some action steps, a lot are cost-effective and take nothing more than your time:
Join the Twitter-verse and start forming your PLN
"...when you are around passionate educators, you cannot help but be passionate yourself!"
I joined Twitter about two years ago and it has expanded my relationships with other educators outside of my institution. It has solidified, challenged, and expanded my teaching practices. You follow what you want to follow and engage in #Chat with others on a weekly or monthly basis.
Some of my favourite follows in no particular order are:
@WeLeadSA, @mcelroy23, MattCockrellArt, @Erik_Youngman, @PanaAsavavatana, @gelsasia, @CAfortheArts, @CalArtsCouncil, @ThesmARTteacher, @mrkempnz, @gderry, @PubPDEdu, @DannyGlasner, @k12artchat, @jasongraham99, @theIAYrbkProf, @theartofed, @21cli, @EARCOSORG, @AppleEDU, @TheLevel5, @gcouros, @KORCOS17, @iborganization, @cho_liz, @darrylsjharding
My Favourite Twitter EdChat to be a part of is #PubPDAsia where you connect with other educators in your area at a local restaurant and also connect online at an organised time and engage in educational chat sessions. They are so much fun! This is one of the ways I recommend maintaining a passion for teaching, because when you are around passionate educators, you cannot help but be passionate yourself!
Become an Apple Teacher
Becoming an Apple Teacher is free and easy. Seriously, it took me two hours to complete. Getting your Apple teacher badge reinforces your knowledge as an Apple educator and will provide you with a wealth of opportunities in terms of using Apple Products in the classroom. Also, by becoming an Apple Educator it is just one step close to applying to become an ADE. When you invest in yourself, you are investing in your students. It’s hard not too feel good about yourself when you accomplish an educational goal that adds to your life and your students.
"It’s hard not too feel good about yourself when you accomplish an educational goal that adds to your life and your students."
Become a Google Certified Educator
I want to encourage you to use Google in your classrooms if you are not already. Becoming a Google Certified Educator is as easy as going to shakeuplearning.com and downloading the free resources to study before you take the test. It will revolutionise your teaching and your students engagement will increase. While you're at it join the Facebook Group Google HyperDocs and the Facebook Education Group. The Google exam for level 1 is only $10 and for level 2 is $25.
Volunteer for events that get your students involved
A Tedx event was hosted at our school and I jumped on the opportunity to volunteer. I wanted to share my expertise of design and organisation in something beyond the walls of my classroom. But what was cool was I got to form my own volunteer team and this was comprised of students! The student volunteers joined because they wanted to be a part of something BIG and wanted the opportunity to display and utilise their talents for self-improvement and the overall experience. My student team designed t-shirts, photo backdrops, the Keynotes, signs, advertisements, SWAG, and took photos for the entire event! There were four other teams, and of the 42 volunteers, 21 of them were students! These students put their passions out there for the world to see, and that makes me passionate about being involved in their lives. I even got to encourage students to apply to speak at the event and it was amazing to see three studentsand one faculty member get selected to speak!
But getting students involved means you first need to build those relationships with your students. Show them you believe in them and their achievements will become one of the great rewards in your career.
Sometimes, this looks like you being proactive and encouraging students, because often the students who want to be involved are not the ones that speak up and shout "pick me!" Make it a personal goal to see the passion and potential in all your students and let it SHINE.
Attend and speak at Educational conferences and Workshops
It can cost money, but conferences are a fantastic way to develop as an educator and keep your passion for life-long learning alive. If its a good conference there will be a range of workshops to choose from that cater to your professional learning goals. But do not just attend the workshop, while you are at it lead one! Sometimes it is challenging to think about what you have to offer, but just remember, what is easy for you is not easy for everyone else. So think about what comes easy to you and develop a workshop around it. On My list for next school year are the KORCOS18 Conference (where I will also be leading a workshop at) and the 21CLHK conference. Both of these are near where I live, and both are fantastic conferences. Go out and find a conference near you; this is where Twitter might come in handy.
Remember why you became an educator
No institution, organisation, or company is perfect. Some days are just bad, but it is important to remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing and maintain perspective in life. You have probably seen the hashtag #firstworldproblems and it is super easy to get caught up in those problems (i.e disagreements with a colleague, ill behaved students, long-hours at work). However, I encourage you to remember the bad day you were having is not so bad. Begin to realise those students you are serving are human just like you, and those colleagues you work with are not perfect and make mistakes, just like you.
Sometimes I have to remind myself why I became an educator, and that is perfectly okay to do because it provides a reality check and pulls your out of that #firstworldproblems mentality. If you maintain perspective, then you maintain passion. If you lose perspective, you can become cynical, and passionless, and it is not just you who is impacted but your students. The last thing I want is to find myself like my freshman university economics professor; passing students on a curve because I have no passion for my students to thrive.