Monday, September 23, 2013

Teach Like a PIRATE Week 2: Passion and Immersion

It's great to see so many familiar names in the blog comments from last week. A special welcome to all the new book club participants. I am so excited about this book and the conversations to come. Please let your colleagues know that it's not too late to participate. Just have them introduce themselves and then jump into the conversation.

This week we're discussing the chapters "Passion" and "Immersion." Thanks to Susie Highley for sharing a couple of questions about passion:

- What parts of the curriculum do you "dread" teaching (like Burgess is not enthused about the railroads or Industrial Revolution)? Have you been able to get past that dread and and focus on your professional or personal passions?
- What are your hobbies or personal passions? Have you found a way to incorporate your personal passion into your classroom?

And what does total immersion in your class look like? Or what do you hope it will look like?

Next week we will read and discuss the chapters "Rapport" and "Ask and Analyze."

32 comments:

  1. I dread teaching rote things like parts of speech and long division! I insert passion by talking about where in "real life" you have to know this (which is especially hard with parts of speech; that's why I don't spend much time with that!) Talking about real life uses of skills always brings in student experiences, so then we're off! Everyone's bought into the lesson (more or less;-)

    As for personal passions, I have the best one a teacher can have: READING! I love to read anything and everything, so that makes bringing in my personal passion easy. Learning is fun for me, so I have NO trouble with being passionate about almost everything... Passion? Check!

    Total immersion in my class means demonstrating and modeling everything first. I use an overhead projector (I know that's old school, but that's all I have). Using an overhead allows me to show students exactly how to do a new skill, while I'm watching faces and body language to check for listening and understanding. After they've watched me, and seem to understand, then I turn them loose to do it on their own, but I'm circling the room, watching for mastery and problems. Then I know who needs more help, more practice, or more time. Often that's when I decide what the assignment for the day will be. If it's a new concept, sometimes there's no assignment. I let it rest for another day, so they don't practice it the wrong way. If it seems easy for everyone, why ask for more? I may check the same skill tomorrow to make sure it's still easy. And like Dave Burgess, I always watch videos with my class, pointing out important details, or clarifying a point. I figure if I'm not interested in the topic, why should they be?

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    1. You're right!! What a great outside passion to bring into the classroom. I'm sure your passion and enthusiasm for reading is contagious and has a huge impact on your kids.

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    2. It's not often in book discussions that the author participates! Thank you so much for taking time to join in our discussion!

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  2. As a calculus teacher, I dreaded teaching topics that I wasn't quite sure about. The way I got around that was finding strange and unusual analogies to help paint a somewhat clearer picture. I would draw anecdotes from movies, TV, or sports to try to illustrate a complicated function.

    Over the years I've have become so passionate about self-improvement. In Tony Dungy's book "Quiet Strength" he talks about how his parents always challenged him to "make the situation better." I believe in this and it has lead me to read and study about optimal experiences and "making things better." I always tried to impress to my students that after learning something, you become "better than what you were." Any time an individual can make a situation better, they add value not only to those involved, but himself as well.

    I feel that one sign of total immersion in a class is experiencing those few moments when everyone is truely engaged and time doesn't seem to be a factor. The bell rings and no one wants to leave!

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    1. I'm also a huge fan of self-improvement and success literature...as I'm sure you'll notice in the book. I haven't read the book you're referring to...I'll have to check it out.

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  3. Hello!
    I'm convinced that the most crucial part of my day where my passion has to come through is at the very beginning. I try to commit myself to making sure I have an emotional hook to get kids excited about what's coming!

    I've taught fifth grade up until this year (I'm a 21st Century Classroom coach this year,) but every day in the classroom, we started with a cheer--I am happy! I am healthy! I am loving! I am caring! I am successful! And everyday! In every way! I'm getting better and better! And I believe it!

    There are days, I don't feel like teaching (today I am teaching the 42nd class the basics of iPad use.) It's hard to get myself motivated at times. I've found because I start each day (or lesson, now,) with this cheer, while at times it have had to be a real actress, something remarkable happens--now when I say it, it flips a switch in me and my true passion for teaching turns on! It's really quite incredible...I'm sure if it's happening for me, it's happening for kids, too--I can feel it.

    Each lesson, each day--our passion has to show, and this book has been SUCH a good reminder!

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  4. I will tell you what I am not passionate about...cooking. I have no use for spending hours in the kitchen and having food inhaled in a matter of minutes. :)
    However, I am passionate about teaching and my students. I love every aspect of what I present to them. If I don't then I can't expect my students to appreciate the many genres of past and future music. Am I passionate for country music....No, but I will teach it with a passion because my students deserve the right to enjoy their choice of music and to have the presentation given whole heartedly no matter what the style. My passion is to make each student feel successful whether it is in general music, choir, reading AR or my learning lab students. If I am not passionate then they won't learn well or even try to be successful.
    I love to read but most of my reading materials are geared to the middle school age student. I need to be able to help them make choices in finding books that might interest them. I can't do that by reading literature that is out of their league.
    And I love this book.

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  5. I can't think of one particular subject or topic that I dread teaching. My problem is that I worry that my students can sleepy/bored by mid-day. The time right after lunch it seems that I have a lot that want to go to the nurse or start asking when is it time to go, etc. I feel like for them and me we need to do something to get everyone kind of perked back up. I am a pretty enthusiastic person any and one of my favorite things to do is read aloud to the students. I always try to get a really good chapter book and always stop at a part in the story that will purposely leave them hanging, so they will want to listen tomorrow.
    My personal passion first and foremost is being a mother. I feel that personal relationships are vital to classroom environment. The more I like them the harder I'm going to work and the more they like me the harder they will work for me. I talk about my boys, a lot. It works out great because they get to hear funny stories and we get to do writing or making connections or whatever the topic is. Other passions of mine would be reading, working in my yard/flowers, knitting, and living in the country.
    When I think of what my classroom would look like in relation to immersion it would be everyone focused, including me. It's so easy to teach a lesson and then get distracted (office calls, writing notes to parents, getting things ready for the next lesson, etc). I think I am guilty of expecting the students to be focused in on one thing while my focus is on five things at once. This also made me think of my youngest son, Luke, who is two. When we get home of afternoon, he wants me to hold him. If I put him down or carry him around while I try to do stuff, he cries and become upset with me. If I give him my undivided attention for about 20-30 minutes, we are fine. I think kids know at any age if you are truly paying attention or not. I think the key to immersion is not just in the classroom, but wherever you are and whatever you are doing.

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  6. After 25 years of teaching English "dread" feels like too strong a word, so I guess that I have grown past the feeling of dread thanks to experience and refining my teaching each year. I do know that there are still content areas that for which I have to work harder in order to get excited. One example is John Steinbeck because I am more of a British Literature fan.

    Last year I tapped into my love of scrapbooking and my evolving interest in digital scrapbooking to put a little zing into the lesson. The students planned a trip to Steinbeck's hometown of San Francisco, CA. I gave each group an imaginary dollar amount to budget and plan a trip there and back. We have one-to- one computers, so the students had to use real numbers for tickets and/or car rentals. The trip also had to include two days' worth of activities in the town. Each member of the group had to create a digital scrapbook page for a mini-album of the trip.

    For the past two years, I have tried to look at my students with what I call a "servant's heart." This is an attitude that I use to anticipate what the students may need. It's a switch from my previous focus that the students need me to an attitude of I am in the room to provide for my students. I supply anything that I predict that a student might need; for example: pencils, paper, Kleenex, anti-bacterial wipes, and computer screen cleaners. This attitude has changed the way that I look at deadlines for student work and my prep time. I believe that this is a type of immersion for me. It has actually made me forget at times that administrators are in my class to evaluate me; I simply forget that they are in the room because I am not the focus of my class. Does that sound "snotty"? It's a bit hard to explain.

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    1. I don't think it sounds snotty at all. It sounds like a great idea. I like the idea of anticipating what students might need with a "servant's heart." Nice!

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  7. Adding and Subtracting Integers is a topic that I dread teaching to 6th grade students. It is very difficult for them and although I obviously understand it, I can understand why it does not always make sense to them. To try to overcome this dread, I attempt to draw pictures with (-) and (+) signs, demonstrate on a number line, and even let them use manipulatives to learn the concept. Using these methods draw mostly from my professional passions to help students master a skill. However I do have a personal passion for math in general, so I typically maintain a high degree of enthusiasm when I teach integers or any other topic.
    My hobbies and personal passions include: gardening, exercising, reading, cooking and just being outside. I really notice my personal passions come through when I teach writing. Many of my topics of writing are inspired from my personal experiences and the students enjoy reading my writing when the stories derive from my personal experiences.
    Although I am working in a different position this year, immersion in my classroom most days can be described as me blending in with the students because I am working in various small groups, students are seated throughout the room some in chairs and some on the floor but all are working. Students are conversing about the topic being taught.
    So far I have really enjoyed reading Teach Like a Pirate and it has inspired me to dig up creative juices when planning a lesson. Although I do always try to be entertaining when teaching because my thought is if I am bored the kids definitely are!

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    1. When I taught (reviewed?) integers in 7th and 8th grade, I would also use the (+) and (-) signs and all the methods you wrote about. Another strategy that I tried was to relate the problem to money or points scored in a game, especially if I had athletes in my room. With adding and subtracting, the students could understand finding/earning money and losing/spending money, and the athletes would sometimes enjoy the problems when they were down by 4, then they scored 12 points, what was the score now type problems. Maybe enjoy is too strong of a word, but there were aha moments.

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  8. Over the past couple of years, I have been pleasantly surprised by the outcomes of those "boring" lessons that I truly dreaded teaching. I always try to take a different, fresh angle to delivery material and often use vocal accents to dramatize the region we're studying. I realized, however, that my personal opinions and attitudes were not shared by every student in my classes and those tedious lessons turned out to be of great interest to kids who probably thought my inspired instruction was dull! You just never know with kids...

    My passion is cooking and throughout my career, I have found ways to include food in lessons. When I taught 7th grade Eastern World curriculum, it was a major part of our cultural experience. I have a two-burner cooktop that I have used in class to cook fresh for my students. Over the years, very few students have absolutely refused to taste new foods. Some have discovered a whole new world, not only full of exotic flavors, but that these foods can be made at home. I also take the opportunity to promote the many restaurants in our community who provide that multlicultural experience; some business owners are our students' families! During our econ summer school class, we took a food field trip to a local diner. The students learned about the pros and cons of small businesses, fixed and variable costs, the life commitment, etc. At the end of our visit, some of my students even applied for jobs!

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    1. This reminds me of one of my favorite lessons from the days I taught science. We dissected, cooked, and ate squid in one class period. At first, students loved to vocalize their aversion to the whole thing, but then a few would talk about how they liked it, and I always ran out of squid!

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  9. When I was teaching math, I dreaded probability and statistics standards. However, these are two topics that are fairly easy to find authentic applications, so I would overcome my dread by helping the students make connections between real world data and these math concepts. I also found that talking to other math teachers about these topics and brainstorming ideas with them would help spark my interest and give me a little bit of passion for probability and statistics.

    When Mr. Burgess wrote about finding your personal passion and incorporating it, I panicked a little because I have a hard time figuring out what my personal passions are. I definitely have things that I enjoy doing outside of work such as exercising and reading that help me relax and give me some 'me' time, but I do not know if I have found something that I would call my personal passion yet. Maybe I have and I just don't know that I feel so strongly about it yet. Anyway, when I taught, I would bring myself into the classroom by just relating to the students and sharing with them what I was doing or did over the weekends or projects that were going on at my house. Showing students that I was a real person and getting to know them as people seemed to help the classroom dynamic.

    Immersion in my classroom looked like a variety of things all being done at once. I would circulate to help students in need or to just check in with students on their progress. Some students might be watching videos or working independently while others were working in pairs or small groups. Students might turn and check in with a neighbor about a certain problem.
    As a technology coach now, I don't have a classroom of students, but I feel passion and immersion when the teachers come to me and ask how they can enhance their lessons or have students use technology to show how learning or to discuss or create something.

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  10. I identified with a sentence in the last paragraph of the assigned reading on page 18, "At somepoint in your career you have to decide if you care more about teaching to tests or teaching kids." Seven years ago I decided to make a drastic career change from being a health insurance account executive and return to teaching, but this time in the area of special education. Going back my love of teaching is proving to be one of the greatest adventures of my life. As a teacher, I have been given the gift of witnessing students learning academically, socially, and functionally. Just this afternoon one of my medically fragile students demonstrated her ability to raise and move her hand to press a "Big Able Switch" with a pre-recorded message with "Hi Mikey!" greeting a fellow student. With great fortitude this student tackled the task I gave her. Why...we have a relationship. She desires praise from her teacher and she intrinsically knows how much she matters to me.

    For me, total immersion of my classroom happens when I observe my students focusing and engaging in the classroom activity. I can see their interest on their faces and the gleam in their eyes.

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    1. I am right there- struggling with my passion to see kids achieve academic success (pass required tests) vs. my passion to see kids love social studies and love learning. I'm an achiever- it's hard to let go of the drive for high test scores. But I also love my students- no matter what their test scores look like. I'm struggling in my heart with this issue over and over. My passion to teach and for relationships with my kids VS. high achievement on tests. I loved your story about this struggle- it's my goal this year to get there too.

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  11. My passion for teaching and learning increases every year. I get more excited every year with advances in technology or research that helps us understand how students and adults learn best. I do not have a classroom but my work in professional development and Higher Ed is exciting for me in every way. Personally my passion is spend as much time with family and friends, especially my grandchildren.

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  12. As a Title One teacher, I have a less "traditional" classroom, in that I have many! Assuredly, there are topics that I do not enjoy co-teaching, or even teaching. When I walk in to those classrooms, however, I fully acknowledge that even if these aren't my preferred topics, students deserve a teacher willing to put her best foot forward. I strive to let my students know they are valued. I absolutely agree with Dave's statement that teaching is a calling, and a "sacred and invaluable profession." So, even if I'm instructing long division (not my idea of a good time!), my responsibility is great to impart knowledge and demonstrate love.

    Not to be cliche, but children are truly my passion. I knew as a young girl that I wanted to be a teacher, and also a Mom. I am a 6th generation educator, so "teaching" is in my blood. I have tutored, babysat, volunteered, and taught hundreds of children in my life. Even when I'm not in my public school building, you can find me in a Sunday School classroom, or volunteering at my sorority on the college campus in our town. And, now that our family has been blessed with two children, I enjoy most spending time with them. Watching them learn and grow and experience life is my greatest blessing. Rest assured, I have other passions: reading, walking, shopping, etc. However, "kids" are my joy!

    Total immersion in a (my) classroom is this: "The greatest sign of success for a teacher is to be able to say, 'The children are now working as if I did not exist.'-Maria Montessori"

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    1. Wow talk about passion....you are from a family of passionate educators...6th generation. Your statement of Maria Montessori couldn't be more true.

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  13. I teach Social Studies and the topic I dislike teaching the most is physical and political geography. History is more of my passion. I love to make connections from the past to current events. I have been able to get past the dread though by building relationships with my students. No matter what I teach, I try to make it relevant to the students. Relevancy is so important for student engagement. I started using PBL last year in my classes and have become passionate about that as well. I really like being the teacher facilitator. It allows me to work more one on one or in small groups with those that are struggling. PBL also helps build those important relationships as well and helps teach 21st Century Skills.

    I am teaching Social Studies half the day and serving in a new role as an eLearning coach the second half of the day. It has been an exciting year so far serving in my new role. Integrating technology and PBL into my classroom and helping other teachers do the same has become one of my professional passions. I am loving my new role as an eLearning coach! So far, I have enjoyed this book and have already began thinking about new ideas. I really like the idea of passion based teaching and passion based learning.

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    1. Wow- I'd love to teach 1/2 day and then be an e-Learning coach (instead of teaching ALL day and still being expected to act as e-Learning coach on my own time informally since I have the tech skills). Sounds like a dream job!

      As a 6th grade Social Studies teacher, most of my curriculum is not my passion- I love 8th grade U.S. history but that's not my schedule this year. I've had to learn to fall in love with the curriculum by getting kids excited and passionate about it- passion is contagious, and I catch it from the students. I have fallen in love with the Middle Ages, Romans, ancient America, and even Canada through their eyes- it's all about engaging activities that THEY find fun and interesting to learn the necessary content. And even if I'm not excited about the topics (like types of government), when the kids find something that they like in that topic (like Henry VIII) and do well on their assessments and projects, the "light bulb" moments in their eyes ignite my passion to teach them well. It's a cycle- we teach each other to love topics and enjoy learning together.

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  14. Immersion to me means both teacher and students are engaged in the classroom. That means I watch the same video 6 times so that I can discuss it with them each class (and boy is that hard sometimes- I'm not used to repeating the same class more than 2 times a day until this year- all 6th grade all day!). It means I choose to not just sit at my desk and grade papers during a project or work time- I'm up and moving and communicating with my kiddos. It means I try to bring that passion daily- even if it's not passion for the topic but rather just passion for the kids. Reading TLAP has helped me feel like it's OK to absolutely adore my career and my students- in a time when many teachers are feeling the burn-out and struggling. No, I don't feel it every day- but that internal fire sustains me through a long Friday afternoon like today when I'm tired and the kids are wild and I could shut down and give up but I press on because of passion.

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    1. It is hard to be engaging when having to repeat something 6 times a day. I used to have 8 first grade classes in a day and by the time I got to the last class I had no desire to be passionate about the lesson I did with the first class. However, each class deserved my optimism and passion that I had with the first class. It was hard and I certainly varied the lesson by the time I got to the last class and sometimes I hate to say, I think the last class actually ended up with the better lesson. I had it perfected by then. I had to remember that with each class, this was the first time round for them. They were always excited and so I fed off of their excitement.

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  15. I have been a special education teacher and this year started a new position as an eLearning coach! I love it. I also still get to work with students who have moderate or severe cognitive needs a period a day. I also get to fill in from time to time working with students who have learning disabilities.
    I think that dread is a bit of a strong word. I cannot think of a specific subject or topic that I dread teaching. There may be days and times that I may be feeling stressed or tired. When I have these moments, it is important that I put those issues or feelings on hold to be present with the students and work to do the best that I can for them. I can deal with my other issues on my own time away from students.
    I am a tech nerd and video game junkie. It gives me no shortage of ways to connect with students and occasionally with topics. I use this as a motivator with students and a way to build rapport. Sometimes I can use my knowledge of gaming and gaming culture to draw parallels between something that many students are passionate about and a text or other topic that we are working on in school.
    Other topics that I am interested are cars and motorcycles. These are often helpful in connecting with students as well.

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  16. I taught science for 23 years, and am now in my 13th year of being a media specialist. I must say, I do not miss teaching the metric system, even though I enjoyed it and the interconnectedness of the different units. We measured all kinds of things, made up sentences to remember the prefixes, put dollar signs whenever possible-- and some kids just never seemed to get it. And, as others have mentioned, doing it 5 or 6 times in one day.

    I had a hard time deciding what my passions are besides my work, but I am able to include sports a lot. Many of our male students what to learn about athletes, so I know way more about WWE wrestlers than I would have ever thought possible. (I don't watch at lot of TV, but I read about shows a lot)

    To me immersion looks like students learning without even thinking about it as "work", rather something they are interested in and excited to discover. What I like about TLAP is that it validates how it's okay to perhaps be a little different and even "go overboard" in the eyes of others. Creating costumes, portraying a character, making up songs, rhymes, or games, designing simulations, or whatever it takes to engage students-- they are all ways to demonstrate your passion for learning, your subject matter, your students. We have to remember sometimes that it's not what the other adults think, it's what the kids think that really matters.

    I look forward to interacting with all of you during our discussion!

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  17. This year more than ever has been a struggle because I am not passionate about the subject areas I am teaching. As a fourth grade teacher, last year I taught all subjects except math (my favorite subject as a student). I found that I was passionate about the science I was teaching and that the hands on structure made it easy for students to be passionate about it too. This year, I am no longer teaching science. I am now teaching ELA and social studies. Both of these subjects are more of a struggle to make exciting for students and myself. I particularly dread teaching students certain reading skills such as drawing conclusions and inferring. These concepts are hard for students to grasp and require lots of practice before mastery. I love the idea to bring in my personal passions to help me teach these concepts. I could provide students with clues about my life and my passions and then allow them to draw conclusions and infer about me. After understanding the concepts better, hopefully they will be able to apply them to what they are reading.

    My personal passions include my family, sports, and creating scrapbooks/ details that create memories. I have incorporated these things at times, but have not found myself making an effort to include them in my lessons. I do think that if I chose these topics to help students understand skills, then we would both be more interested and immersed in the lesson.

    Immersion in my classroom means that I am joining in the small group discussions, making myself comfortable on the floor with a group of students, and participating in learning activities right along side the students. I have found that when I take the time to actually sit with a group of students during discussion rather than stand and look down on them, that they are more likely to respond to my thoughts and questions. When I am standing, they are unsure if I am just providing questions for thought or if I want them to respond and discuss with me. If we are completing a writing assignment, I teach the process better when I provide a self written example rather than the example provided from the book. I have immersed myself in the assignments I am assigning and putting myself in the shoes of the students.

    I appreciate the way these first two chapters have already challenged me to distinguish what I am doing differently on an enjoyable day of teaching versus a dreaded one.

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  18. I have found that I really have to dig deep to get excited about math each afternoon. I have a passion for reading because it was always hard for me so I had to work really hard at it. I had to learn how to read from the inside out. Math always came easy so I never had to devote time to it.
    In my professional training I've always sought out reading training because it interests me.
    I've taken a few math courses here and there about really peeling back the onion in math. Even though it's just basic math in first grade it's completely foreign to my students.

    I got a lot out of the Immersion chapter. It really made me take a look at my role in the learning in my room. It made me look at the difference in barking orders and overseeing the procedures instead of getting in there and really guiding the learning. Even if we're just reading a passage quickly for the fourth time this week I still need to be at each table. Making my students aware of my presence really helped keep them on tasks because they were ready when I came around to their table.

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  19. I appreciated the author's point about professional passion. I have found that sometimes, I'm so busy with my own responsibilities that I forget to enjoy spending time with my kids. Professional passion can also help with those subjects I don't find so stimulating (fifth-grade math, anyone?). Staying focused on the reason I teach in the first place was great advice for me.
    The chapter also made me think about how I can incorporate my personal passions into my teaching. I also study theatre, and I love to give my students the opportunity to share what they are learning through role-playing or readers' theatre. These activities really give students the chance to shine, especially if they don't receive much positive attention in behavior or academics. (Incidentally, my knowledge of regional dialects also makes reading aloud a lot more fun.)
    Looking forward to the next chapter!

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  20. I am going give this another try. : ) I forgot to post over the weekend and tried to post last night, but it made an error when I went to publish and I lost what I wrote.

    I enjoyed reading about the different area's of passion and that you can draw upon one area to strengthen an other area when it is running low. I am blessed this school year because I am able to combine my passion for teaching and my passion for cooking together. I am co-teaching a functional skills nutrition class and having fun with it.
    The Immersion chapter was a good reminder to give thing our full attention. With the idea of multitasking we tend to sometimes not give things the attention that they should. I enjoy it most when I am working with students and helping them learn or complete an assignment.

    Thanks for everyone's post. I enjoy reading your posts. Looking forward to sharing the next section with you.

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  21. My school district now has 1:1 laptops for all of our students which has helped with parts of the curriculum that I'm not as excited about teaching. One of these areas would be teaching punctuation and gerunds. One of the reasons I dreaded mechanical and grammatical lessons is because of the way I was assigning practice work. Before we had laptops, I would assign lots of practice exercises. These were tedious and time consuming to grade. However, if I told students an assignment was for practice only, I didn't feel they paid much attention or tried very hard. By finding some sites with mechanical and grammatical exercises online, my students complete exercises online and receive instant feedback. This way we are still covering these skills, but I am not bogged down with endless grading. It is a win-win for the students and for me. It also allows me to be more present with the students because I'm not buried in as much grading.

    Reading is definitely a passion of mine, and I talk about books and authors that I have read in class. I also teach Current Events, and it is important to me to make connections between the past, the present, and what students are studying in school. My minister is a role model for me in this area. He uses current events almost every week in his sermons. Even when he uses Biblical texts in his sermons, he connects it to the current events that are happening in the world that week. This makes the Biblical passages more meaning for me. I try to do this with the literature we read in my English classes. I want my students to understand that the time period an author lived in frequently influences what they write. I am passionate about my pets. This summer I took a Project-Based Learning class and developed a project to go with the novel All Creatures Great and Small for my students.

    Balancing my busy life is a challenge. I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a teacher, and I have a lot of grading to do as an English teacher. It is tempting sometimes to grade or create a test on my laptop, but I have to remind myself to resist the temptation because my students deserve my full attention. I try to limit grading and writing tests to study hall times or my prep but this is a constant balancing act. It feels like I am never completely caught up! There is always something to create for classes, something to grade, make up work to record, administrative tasks to take care of, items to document for Rise, e-mails to respond to, parent calls to make, students to counsel. (And this is my school list. I won't even list the home tasks!) Reading this book has reminded me of the importance of being fully present with everyone in my life - my students, my family, my friends, my colleagues. In my classroom this means that during class time I am walking the aisles, commenting to students as they work instead of trying to "get ahead" with my work load at my desk.

    I loved Cathy Gohmann's comment about having "a servant's heart." I teach in the same building with Cathy, and I can tell you she really lives this saying. She is one of the teachers in my building who gladly assists students, teachers, and administrators because she is the kind of person who goes out of her way to help others. Her comment about providing classroom supplies and anticipating what the students will need is such a good attitude to have. I think many of us in the teaching profession realize that sometimes not all students have tools at home that we used to take for granted that they might have. With the struggling economy, some families don't have materials for projects readily available.

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  22. I have passion for a lot of different areas in my life and teaching life, but teaching handwriting is not one of them! There are many ways you can practice handwriting, but at some point in time, you have to take pencil to paper and practice it that way! We get up and make letters with our bodies, practice writing in salt, practice tracing, make letters out of play-doh, etc. but it still has to be done on paper as well. That is an area I struggle to bring the passion in! As a Kindergarten teacher, it is pretty easy to get enthusiastic and get the kids going, but hard to maintain that stamina throughout the day sometimes. They are great at going all in and exploring though, and they are not afraid of technology and trying new things! Surprisingly many of them are hesitant to get dirty!

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