Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Exploring My Passions

After hearing so many wonderful things about Dave Burgess's Teach Like a Pirate, I quickly ordered it on my Kindle around the end of June. I am so thankful I did. If there has ever been a book that challenged me to better myself, this was that book. The ideas in this book are fresh and forced me to think in all kinds of different ways about the way I was teaching.

I blogged about my thoughts on immersion here, but today, I wanted to share some of my passions. Dave breaks passion down into three categories: content passion, professional passion, and personal passion. Thinking about my passions in these three different categories surprised me in so many ways and I learned a lot about myself in doing so. (That's why it took me so long to blog about it. :) )

Content Passion - What do I love to teach?

My ultimate passion when it comes to content is teaching about books. I took a class on Daily 5 and Cafe at the beginning of the summer, and I am itching to get into the classroom and put all of my new-found knowledge to work. Putting books into the hands of children and teaching them how to use them (both to gain knowledge and for pleasure) puts that spring in my step. With teaching reading, I am constantly challenging myself as a teacher and trying to find the best way to meet my students' needs. This is important to me as a teacher. 

There are a couple of science/social studies topics that keep me going throughout the year too. I love, love, love to teach about the ocean! My husband and I went to Hawaii on our honeymoon, and my eyes were opened up to a whole new world. Having lived in (very much) land-locked Iowa my entire life and never seeing the ocean before our trip, I had no idea of its beauty and mystery. While in Hawaii, I had the opportunity to go on a submarine trip. At the deepest depth, we were 128 ft. below sea level. We saw all kinds of amazing creatures and habitats. It was fantastic! I love creating all kinds of beach/ocean-like experiences for my students. (Like this one!) I think I come alive when I'm teaching about these topics.

Another topic that puts the extra bounce in my step is farm. I grew up on a dairy farm. At times, we also had pigs, sheep, and chickens on our farm. As a kid, my life revolved around milking the cows, making the hay, immunizing the pigs, and feeding the calves. My dad loves to tell the story of the three year old me who was desperate to watch him milk the cows in the middle of the winter. After getting all bundled up and getting me to the barn, I think I lasted about 15 minutes before I was desperate to go back to the house. In my heart, the farm will always be my home. I love how naturally inquisitive my kiddos tend to be about the farm, and I love being a part of helping them experience the wonder of the farm.

Professional Passions - Why do I teach?

Three reasons:
  1. Watching students become great world citizens - There is so much more happening in my classroom than reading and math. Every day I have the joy of teaching students how to operate in the world. I teach about manners and kindness, and together, we work to better ourselves as people. This is why I teach. Nothing can make me smile bigger than hearing students share how kindness made a difference in their lives and how they plan to use that kindness in the future. 
  2. Being there - I have very little clue as to what my students are dealing with outside of school. Some students are more open than others, of course, and I know that many of them are dealing with things adults struggle with. For this reason, I teach to provide as safe place for my students. I challenge myself to take the time to love each and every child in my classroom and to make sure that their time with me is as caring and worry-free as it can be.
  3. Connecting and inspiring greatness - I want my students to know that there is more to this world than what is inside our four walls. I want them to know that what we are learning, doing, and creating within those four walls is important to everyone outside of those walls. I teach to inspire my students to be great and to explore their own passions to create something awesome. Then, I teach to create ways for them to share their passions with the world. I want them to be great, and I want the world to know it! 

Personal Passions - What do I love outside of teaching?

Anyone who knows me well knows that I cannot turn down a sweet to save my life. (This is the reason why I run.) For this reason, baking is one of my all-time favorite things to do. I recently tweeted this picture of the cake I made for my birthday. Let me tell ya', that thing tasted even better than it looked! I also make some dang good cinnamon rolls. My husband frequently requests them, and they have become a Christmas morning staple for both of our families. 

Another personal passion I have is books. Most Saturdays during the school year involve hours of losing myself in a good book. I won't disclose how much time I spend reading in the summertime. It's quite embarrassing. It's a good thing I am very conscious of our budget, because if that wasn't the case, I'm certain a huge percentage of our monthly income would go toward new books. Instead, I make weekly trips to the library and delight in rereading my favorites. I'm currently working my way through the Harry Potter series again, and I'm just as excited about them now as I was when I first read them. 

Now that I have identified all of my passions, I need to determine how I'm going to use them in my classroom. There's no doubt that I'm looking at this year in a completely different light than I did before. I'm hoping to focus on engagement and planning with my students in mind. After taking a few weeks off of school (although it is really hard to completely detach myself from school), I'm finally ready to get back and I'm so excited to see where this year takes me and my students!

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