Friday, April 24, 2009

Finding the Passion

"Passion" is a word that has been over used in the last few years. At some stage (I'm not exactly sure when) the word started to bug me, and eventually it became a pet hate. People would say "I'm really passionate about this..." or "My passion in life is..." and I would roll my eyes and scoff. I don't know when I became cynical about passion, but I did. 

I think part of it was that I saw it as a new education 'buzz' word. Something that our leaders wanted us to have and show. People were talking about 'passion' left, right and centre and I felt that it had really lost it's meaning. Lately though, I have found the passion for 'passion' again!

The last two years, have been years of great learning for me as a teacher. I am still fairly new to teaching (in my 4th year), and have found that I now feel "settled" in the job. I have been lucky enough to work with a leadership team that has allowed me to explore my ideas. These ideas have lead to the Boys Education trials that we have been running at our school, and in turn have let me find my 'passion' area in my teaching. Finding this passion has made me a better teacher and a better learner.

Now that the 'buzz' word has changed, people are analysing 'passion' less and instead are starting to feel and find it. I see people at my school using their passion for dance or music or maths (yes these people exist) in their teaching. It is a great thing to see. Since starting to run a class blog with my class I am seeing 'passion' in my new professional contacts from around the world.

Myles Webb talked about his passion in his last 'teacher's desk' blog post. We can all see this passion coming through in his class blog and the support he has given other bloggers (including myself) get started with their online journey. You can see this passion coming through in his students' online learning.  Bill Chamberlain and Joe McClung show their passion for teaching in every blog post and speaking with Joe's class last week it is easy to see that they love learning in his class. The passion these teachers show is a wonderful thing to see, and something I feel privileged to be a part of.

If finding my passion has helped me become a better learner, then surely this must be the same for our students. We MUST find ways to let them 'tap in' to their passions and not stifle them. Sir Ken Robinson spoke about this need in his talk at the TED conference (below). If you have not seen this (or even if you have), take the time to watch this fantastic video.

What he has to say is so important. We are heading toward a world where creativity is becoming more and more necessary and desirable for employment. Helping kids to find their passions and then encouraging them to use these in their learning is fantastic. There is no better feeling as a teacher than to see the success and joy that can come with this.

A young man in my class has a real passion for music and his culture. We discussed this and he decided that he would use this for the basis of a project. He spent time at school and at home arranging and recording a song from his culture with brilliant results (press play below). 

There was fantastic learning in this. He had to submit a proposal for the project, learn new computer programs, learn the chords for the song, play guitar, sing, write harmonies and share the meaning of his music with others through a presentation (as well as our blog). He then went through a submission process to have his music considered for a music festival. It was amazing for me to see the joy and recognition that he got from this. He now uses his music skills to support his learning across the curriculum.

I realise that we have a crowded curriculum and I am not saying that this is something we need to find extra time for. I am saying that we need to consider our teaching styles and find a way for kids to use their passions wherever they can. It works for us. I believe it will work for them.

Jarrod Lamshed


Paul Luke said...

Interesting post Jarrod - we do need passionate educators like yourself, something I blogged about earlier this year. Have a look at Tony Ryan's $ Es further in the linked post.

Michael/@teachernz said...

Passion has been a buzz word around our school for a few years. We have had staff "passion sessions" (stop that sniggering in the back) where teachers share a particular passion they have for an aspect of teaching/learning. Mine was class blogging, others were aspects of Gardner's Multiple Intelligences, Peter Sloan's literacy programme, student meditation, self and peer review and many more.

These were all lively PD sessions led by teachers with a passion for what they were doing and sharing. Inevitably some of it was transferred to the audience and elements have been added to teachers' classroom toolboxes.

I think you're right Jarrod that we have to find students' passions and use them to build on, but without a passionate teacher that's not going to happen. We need to be allowed to find/rediscover/harness our passion too.

I think that's enough passion for now

John Strange said...

I apologize for te length of this comment. It can also be found at EDM 310 Class Blog.

It is actually a letter to my students, sort of a closing comment as they complete my course for this semester.

It was particularly inspired by jarrod Lamshed' post and Mr. C's efforts. It is my way of thanking each of you for the last 4 weeks of learning. As I told my wife last night, I cant remenber a semester in my 45 years of teaching (yes, longer than most of you have lived) when I have been so excited and motivated and have learned so much.

So consider it a Thank You from me as well! I will probably refine it and edit it (as I always do), especially since it is a "first off" set of thoughts on a Friday morning. The edits will appear on the EDM 31o Blog.

A Letter to My Studets:
I have just read the latest posts (and reread earlier ones too) on the blog At The Teachers Desk, a collaborative blog by 7 fantastic teachers in Australia, New Zealand, Missouri. The subtitle of the blog is "An experiment in professional learning, collaboration and sharing of ideas." If you really do aspire to be a fantastic teacher,or even just a good teacher, then you should be reading this blog regularly. And when you begin your teaching career, you should be a contributor to it or a similar effort that you start or participate in.

Why is this blog so important?
1. It is an example of what can be found on Twitter. From our Twitter learning experience came our connections to these teachers and this blog. So indirectly it is evidence of the power of Twitter to inform and connect.
2. It is written by real practicing teachers who give a hoot about their teaching. They are passionate about it in a very positive way. In the most recent post Jarrod Lamshed discusses his problem with the word passion but then goes on to describe how his collaborative participation in the world of blogs, streaming video, collaboration and creativity have made him a very passionate teacher. You don't often get to talk with such dedicated, imaginative and "passionate" teachers. Take advantage of it.
3. In my Professional Blog I suggest that we need to avoid being captured by the mantra Return to the Basics but we need to adopt the 5Cs: Cloud Computing ("All Information in All Places at All Times"; ClassRooms to ClassSpace, Collaboration, Creativity, Change. The teachers contributing to this blog are practicing all of these all the time. You get a chance to be a part of their thinking process if you read this blog. And you can comment on their posts! And you can converse with them on Twitter and in the wide variety of communication options that they encourage. You don't get that opportunity in the classrooms here!
4. In your Professional Blogs I try to get you start being a "Reflective Practitioner." This blog is the best example of "reflections on practice" by classroom teachers that I have ever seen. Let it be a model to you throughout your professional life.
5. In another post in this blog I passed along Mr. C's musing that he wondered whether you realized how lucky you were to have all of the great helpers in our Twitter learning exercise. These are extremely valuable mentors as you seek to become teachers. Value them, learn from them, let them be your models!
6. This blog is an excellent example of writing with multimedia. You know that I think that one of your major tasks as teachers will be to understand that your students are members of the listening/watching generation and not reader/writers. And I am strongly convinced that as teachers you must lead your students to be contributors to the multimedia world, not just consumers. Well, this blog is a fantastic example of how to write with multimedia. Every post has audio, video, links, or makes use of some of the new tools that are available to us today. Here is a model you can adopt and encourage (and approve) for your students, even where your culture still thinks it all has to be text! (Like this blog, which is almost all text. I talk a good game. Next semester I will try to be a better multimedia model!
7. This blog is a perfect example of how important it is to abandon walls and adopt space for our classes. New Zealand, Australia, the United States. All in one place. Where do you find that i Alabama?
8. If you think that I am always adding things for you to learn because "I don't know. Let's find out", just reflect on these teachers. They go at an even faster pace than I do. You must be ready to be full time learners as well as full time teachers. Just like these teachers!
9. This is collaborative in action! I have admitted in my Professional Blog (I hope you have read it class, since yours is due next Thursday at 5pm) that a major failing of mine this year is not having assigned a single collaborative project this semester. That will change next semester. Well, the podcasts were sort of collaborative, I suppose. But I will expand on the collaboration. Seize the opportunity to watch what collaboration can do for teaching, for students, and for US!

Anonymous said...

The reason why I keep coming back to ya'll blog is because of the passion that ya'll have for education and helping others in their pursuit of becoming better. It's a fun and amazing thing to watch people who are passionate. The passion seems to ooze out of them. What a powerful thing we can do when we instill and foster passion into our students. And then connect it to our curriculum. Watch out now! Great post Jarrod

Wm Chamberlain said...

Gobsmacked!Thank you, Jarrod.

Pam Thompson said...

A great post Jarrod - obviously straight from the heart! I applaud you for your genuine passion and what a surprise to find you're only in your 4th year of teaching! Congratulations on setting up this collaborative blog. You are all an inspiration to other teachers. For new teachers you demonstrate the practicalities of the classroom.
Looking forward to catching up soon.

NZWaikato said...

A wonderful post and thank you for the kind words

Anthony said...

Dr. Strange had us watch the video of Sir Ken Robinson in class, and it helped encourage me to take a year to discover my creative talents before becoming a teacher. Since I have returned to Alabama it has been hard for me to stay motivated for my goals, but with all the techniques that I have learned over the passed semester for staying in touch with the educational world-- I feel safe in fulfilling a dream I have had for a while now without falling out of touch with intellectual resources. Thanks.

Nicole said...

I have read this post as a part of Dr. Strange's class. The summer semester is coming to a quick end but there is one thing I know for sure; you are an inspiration and I will continue to follow you and encourage others to do so as well. Thank you for this post and exposing me to Sir Ken Robinson's remarkable ideas and remarks. Your passion is inspiring.

DLR said...

I have read this post for Dr. Strange's summer class. I couldn't agree with you more! I want to encourage my students in their passions. That could only enhance their learning experiences! Thank you so much for sharing the video and the audio of your very talented student, who obviously is a very gifted musician!

Megan said...

I read this blog as part of Dr. Strange's EDM course. this blog was so wonderful to see how if someone can just find their passion then they can flurish in whatever they do. The video was really inspiring to watch and entertaining all at the same time. Thank you Mr. Lamshed. If you need to contact me my twitter name is Bamamcb07 and my blog site is