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Finding your Passion

“Passion is contagious and when you have the courage to share your passion for life with those around you, it can inspire others to find the path to their dreams!”

~Michele DeVille

Communicating with other educators around the world through the use of Twitter, Blogs, and other Web 2.0 tools is reminiscent of my first introduction to a similar concept. I love seeing the online connections forming between educators over the world. Just this weekend I’ve witnessed:

  • Educators commenting on each others’ classroom blogs. (I can only imagine how excited the students will be on Monday when they discover comments from all around the world.)
  • Educators setting up Skype pals/buddy classrooms miles apart
  • Teachers excited about online communication that fills a void about passionate “school talk” in their own schools
  • School districts arranging for joint projects
  • Administrators connecting with one another
  • Administrator encouraging teachers to “connect out” and develop their PLN
  • Educators seeking answers to questions and/or advice – and finding the assistance needed very quickly
  • Educators cheering each other on in pursuit of healthy lifestyles
  • And a constant stream of educators freely sharing and brainstorming!

Around 1996 my teaching, passions, and career path transformed because of online correspondence I had with educators I met on Teachers.net. At that time, I was teaching 4th grade and later moved to 5th grade. I was learning about and implementing Literature Circles in my classroom. Through Teachers.net, I found other educators trying the same procedures. The online collaboration and sharing of ideas changed my teaching. Others recognized the techniques I was trying and soon teachers and administrators wanting to see our literature circles in action were visiting my students and me on an ongoing basis.

While our visitors may have been observing the process, I was watching and admiring the success of my students. I witnessed the formation of a community of learners who have empowered that they could, in fact, teach others (classmates and adults alike). I observed students becoming more engaged in the reading process and willing to share their thoughts with one another. I had students learning English wanting to say in my classroom for “reading class” because the felt supported by the community of learners. I had students reveal after the completion of a book that that was the first chapter book they had actually read, admitting to faking their way through many other books. I saw students who were once known as “trouble makers” grow into positive leaders and recognize their own transformation was due to the fact they felt they now had a voice in their learning.

As I collaborated with my online friends, we’d share our student success stories. During this time I met Angela Ackley, creator of The Teacher’s Desk website.  Our passion for Literature Circles evolved into an online communication between our classrooms. Mine in Iowa and hers in Ohio. We developed a unit entitled The Fairy Tale Fantasy. (This is the only link I can find that is still active from our 1998 project.) Our students studied many versions of Cinderella and read Ella Enchanted. We located a chat room to use allowing our students the opportunity to discuss the books with each other. The project culminated with students writing their own Cinderella version and sharing them with their new friends.

These experiences lead me to pursue a career in teacher professional development and later study educational leadership. I am now seeing the same excitement I felt many years ago through the eyes of educators around the world. Tools like Blogging, Twitter, and Skype are allowing them to connect with others that share their same passions and open new discoveries and opportunities.

An amazing thing happens when we find our passions. We find ourselves in a “state of flow.” Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi defined the theory of flow as, “the mental state of operation in which a person in an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity.”

  • What puts a smile on your face?
  • What do you find easy?
  • What sparks your creativity?
  • What would you do for free?
  • What do you like to talk about?
  • What makes you unafraid of failure?
  • What would you regret not having tried?

Questions from: I Need Motivation

What are your passions? Have you shared your passions with your students? Do you know their passions? How can you use their passions to bring them into a “state of flow” where they lose themselves in a love of learning in and beyond the classroom?