Reading this article "10 Years of Teaching: How do I Keep My Students Interested?" makes the case for passion instead of engagement as the key for keeping students interested in class. I couldn't agree more. It's been a topic that I've been visiting and revisiting this year as I've worked on incorporating more and more student ownership of the learning in my classroom.
Part of this transformation has to be to embrace the messy-ness of learning and to get students to realize that they shouldn't expect to get everything new perfectly the first time. It's convincing them to trust me, as their teacher and guide, to put them in situations that make them feel uncomfortable while I won't let them drown.
It's also making sure at the end of a project, you take enough time to reflect on what's happened. I was thrilled to talk with my classes at the end of the year. They repeatedly told me that they loved the learning where the endpoint was uncertain....that it wasn't another cookbook lab where they knew they'd all end up with the same test results. Instead they preferred, if they said it was "harder", to discover their own path to the answer.
So are you a passionate teacher? Joel says in his article, "I contend that passionate teachers are infectiously interested in their subject matter so much so that the students’ curiosity is piqued."
Do you infect students with the subject matter? By that I mean are you passionate about teaching enough to turn it over the students. Are we brave enough to design lessons that dare our students to reach far beyond where they were when they arrive that day in our classroom. It's dangerous. As Krissy Venosdale says, it may even cost you friends who don't understand why you spend time working on things they don't value as much as you. We have to be brave enough to follow the quiet nudgings of our own hearts and not be bothered by the barbs of those around us who don't share the same values. And it's not in the curriculums I've seen. You'll have to forge your own trail.
I'm slowly transforming myself into someone who practices the CrossFit exercises. I see how it's hard every single day but I feel like I've accomplished something at the end of 60 minutes every single time I come. Those lessons are relevant to the classroom because if we want to become passionate, we can't play it safe. We have to push the boundaries and dare to become passionate. CrossFit Lisbeth puts it this way,
"Be smart. Be courageous. Be bold. Throw everything you got on the line and watch life reply."