As Valentine’s Day nears, it seems fitting to reflect on one’s passions. Recent blogs, conversations, and twitter messages have inspired me to do just that.
- Rich McGrath recently blogged: Why I Love Being a Principal. In his blog, he shared his passions: Kids, Teachers, and Colleagues. His passion clearly shines through!
- Rich’s daughter is currently blogging about her experiences studying abroad in Spain for a semester. Her blog (Mi Vida en España!) is a beautiful reflection of her trip. Her passion for new learning and sharing her experiences, so that others can live through them vicariously, provides an excellent example of the impact of blogging. The recent photo (above) from her trip captures her”JOY!”
- @kevinhoneycutt recently tweeted about “The Open World Project” where two high school students in Buhler, Kansas are helping to build a library in Nepal in order open up a new world of learning for the students. Their passion speaks loud and clear!
Angela Maiers speaks of #passiondriven classrooms. Her message is contagious! I recently rewatched a Classroom 2.0 Live session presented by Angelia Maiers and Amy Sandvold authors of The Passion-Driven Classroom (which I just ordered!) When we are #passiondriven we have the opportunity each day to share our passions with the world. Angela and Amy explain that passion is “Something we would do every day, even if was hard.”
A quote I recently found by an unknown author sums up my professional passions quite well.
“When work, commitment, and pleasure all become one and you reach that deep well where passion lives, nothing is impossible.”
This quote reminds me of the work of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (me-HIGH chick-sent-me-HIGH-ee). I had the opportunity to revisit his theory of flow while being trained as an Instructional Coach Trainer (by @jknight99). Leslie Owen Wilson sums up the theory of flow in her article: What’s the big attraction? Why teachers are drawn to using Multiple Intelligences Theory in their classrooms.
“Simply, the flow state can be defined as an intensified state of concentration, or high level of focused attention. When people are in a state of flow, they are highly centered, on-task, and may literally forget the passing of time. This state of extremely concentrated mental engagement is normally induced if people are doing something they like to do, they are involved tasks that require high levels of mental or physical focus, or they are engaged in something that they are good at doing.”
So what are my passions? Where am I in a state of flow? What makes me “Jump for Joy?” I think this can be summed up in one word: LEARNING! Yet, this one word takes on many meanings in my life.
- My love of learning began as a young child. My father would take my sister and I to the public library often. His own passion for learning inspired me. My sister and I continued trips to the branch library own our own for many years. Piles of books would fill the living room floor on a Saturday afternoon and the reading and sharing began! I still have a deep passion for the printed word. Books continue to fill my home. Reading (whether online or in the form of books & journals) fill a lot of my time. Right now I find myself bouncing from book to book, because of the vast amount of reading the material at my fingertips. I find the need to get re-focused and stay with one book at a time. With so many good ones’s waiting to be read, I’m finding choosing one a difficult task. The winner is Unmistakable Impact: A Partnership Approach for Dramatically Improving Instruction by Dr. Jim Knight. As an Instructional Coach & Trainer, I respect the work of Dr. Knight. I also already know that the book makes many connections to the “role of the principal.” This is where I ultimately see myself! From a quick skim of chapter 3 Principals Dr. Knight states, “When it comes to ensuring that professional learning is focused, effective, integrated, and leading to change, the principal is the hub of the rapidly moving wheel.” He goes on to state, “If a school is going to be an Impact School, the principal must roll up her sleeves and be at the heart of the professional learning – co-planning what will happen, observing progress and keeping the wheel rolling.” These statements are totally in line with my passions and philosophies. I know I’m going to enjoy this book!
I find a deep sense of JOY when stepping foot into a school. I know that each day will be filled with new learning. This comes in all forms. I love learning from students, teachers, paraprofessionals and other school personnel, parents and administrators. It is within this cross-section of relationships that passionate learning environments are developed! This year I have the unique experience of being an instructional coach in my own childhood elementary school (Lincoln Elementary in Sioux City, Iowa). It is a joy to walk the halls in be in the classrooms that I once sat in as a child. (For some reason everything shrunk a bit!) It is within this building I discovered my lifetime calling in the field of learning [my own & inspiring others]. The care and compassion I see in the teachers each day show me that they are passing the torch of a “love of learning” on to their own students.
- As an Instructional Coach, much of my daily learning comes from students and teachers. I’m currently working with four classes of 5th graders at a local elementary school. Each classroom has started to blog. Over 60% of these students are learning English as a second language. Many do not have computers or Internet access in their homes. They have had some computer experience throughout their elementary school years. Their teachers and I have been amazed at how quickly they are picking up the process! Even as I blog, on a Saturday afternoon, new blog posts and comments are coming in from the students who have computers at home. Their blogs are representing a wide range of genres and topics. I love learning from them and their teachers. This experience is new to all of us. Blogging is not only providing the students additional time to communicate (many in their second language), but they are collaborating with others, problem-solving, interacting with people from around the world and beginning to take an interest in learning more about these places. They are also able to see that their teachers and I are learners as well. (As recently posted by @Grade1: (It’s Okay To Make Mistakes)
Another “learning” passion is driven by figuring out how to reach each student. Each new challenge provides my colleagues and I opportunities to deepen our understanding of specific students and discover clues to guiding their success. This can come in the form of collaborating with teachers and parents, observing and working with the student, administering diagnostic assessments, planning interventions, progress monitoring and evaluating the effects of our methods. Together we can determine what is best for each student by fostering an inclusive and accepting environment as described by Edward Stern’s guest post: Accommodating Learning Disabilities and Differences Without Singling Students Out.
- In writing on the topic of learning, I cannot forget to mention the learning that takes place with my Northwest AEA colleagues and my Twitter PLN. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t gain something from them. Both groups are passionate educators sharing their own contributions with the world around them whether locally or globally.
My work with schools, my commitment to learning and the pleasure of working collaboratively with so many (students and adults) does bring about a deep sense passion. Together nothing is impossible!
What makes you JUMP FOR JOY?