Before teaching, I believe that the word "passion" was an abstract term for me. I heard it from self help books or seminars, but it truly had no real meaning for me. I knew that I needed it, but how do I get it? Is it something you seek in your job? Are there steps to follow to suddenly get some "passion"? If I ate right, got enough sleep, and did enough yoga could "passion" suddenly procure?
Well, I must admit before teaching I was a bit lost. I've always had a strong work ethic, but I was not yearning to produce, create, innovate as I do in education. The closest thing that hit home with me was ministry. I loved working with the children. The kids brought out the best in me, and I loved seeing their love for Christ grow. However, at times, working with the various adults (parents), and their different personalities strained me. Ministry leadership, because it is so personal to so many, often creates a heavy task for the leader who must listen to everyone's input, making sure that everyone feels valued, and then put those ideas together for a common goal that most all can agree on. In the end, I felt it was too personal for me in some ways, and I longed to worship solely with my family again. The passion needed for the long term was not there.
So, how do you know if you are passionate about your career? I love the following clip.
Being in Your Element: Sir Ken Robinson talks about being in your element, which combines something that you are naturally good at with a passion in which you have your heart and soul in something. I feel that in education I am in my element. When I think of my classroom, my students, my school, my fellow colleagues my heart warms. That feeling began with my student teaching and has continued through the start of my career. I do not long to do anything else anymore. I don't feel fidgety, discontented, unhappy. I don't long anymore for what else is out there, or think thoughts like, "If I could find just the right thing, then I will be content." Although, I do believe that we all must be grateful for what we have, and no career can make us truly content in all ways. Finding the right fit for your personality, interests, and strengths is a great start.
Being in The Zone: Robinson describes, "the zone" is the ability to work for hours on something and it feels like minutes. I feel that way about all elements of education whether it be planning units, lessons, school events, or collaboration between teachers. I could spend all night working on it and feel cheated that there is not more time! That is being in the zone, and that is when you know you've hit your passion.
Here & Now: Finally, Robinson, discusses being in the present. I totally get this. I know with jobs I've had in the past I'd often get distracted. Maybe I would be thinking about the new car I wanted to buy or what colors I wanted to paint my house. Basically, I wanted to think of anything else but my work. This is the complete opposite when you hit your passion. Now, I am engaged and ever present when I am in the classroom. I don't feel the pull of the computer. I don't think about trying to multi-task by grading my students papers while also teaching. No, I am ever present within the classroom, because basically I don't want to miss a fantastic discovery made by one of my students. I want to be ever present for them and with them. I feel that I am in the "here and now". There is no place that I would rather be than focused on their learning!
Another clip that I like is by Steve Jobs--
Insights from Steve Jobs: Jobs discusses that passion is absolutely necessary for job success. This is because to be successful at something you must maintain that passion over an extended period of time. He claims that no rational person would produce qualty work that they were not passionate about. Over time, they would dry up, and not do it anymore. My thoughts are that some do continue to try and stick a career choice out, although miserable. The result is that their career becomes just a job that pays the bills. Distracted and annoyed to be in a position that brings no joy or passion, innovation and creativity dies. This is tragic for any career choice, but especially in education.
Keeping that passion for an extended period of time is the ultimate goal for continued joy and success. This is not always easy, but in the realms of education, that means passionate teachers must stay connected with other passionate educators who are always striving for excellence.
Final thoughts: I am happy to say that passion is no longer an abstract term for me. I feel it in my heart and mind: education is for me. I feel like I am one of the lucky ones. My wish is for my students to discover their passions and never let them go!