Who turned the light off?

cc licensed by Kelly McCarthyWhere is the turn in a child’s education that causes the light to dim? Is it developmental? A response to irrelevant teaching? Or something altogether cultural? 

It happened in my life. I was always a curious child, asking why to no end, reading encyclopedias at home for fun, writing ideas for books, and devouring logic problems and puzzles. Yet, something happened along the way that created a disconnect between learning and school.

Grades never motivated me much, but they did define me. I never believed that I was smart. Smart meant good grades and mine were average at best until the second semester of my Junior year. I am not sure if it was due to new friendships, ending a toxic relationship, or just growing up a little… Honestly, it was so long ago I can’t remember what made the difference, but that year I went from barely a 2.0 GPA  to well over a 3.5 in one semester. The counselor that year made a comment to the effect of “now we know what you can do.” I will never forget that. It was the first time I thought maybe I was more than what I had come to believe I was.

When I decided to become a teacher, it was the desire to share my passion for learning that influenced me. I wanted to show kids that learning could still be fun and that making a grade isn’t really what it’s all about. It has been a difficult road navigating between that passion and the institution that is our educational system. I have often wondered if it is worth it, if I am completely unrealistic, or even if I have it all wrong.

glint

But, when I see the glint of possibility in a child’s face… of passion… of knowing who they are and who they could be…. I know.

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Igniting the Passion to Learn

 

Update 6 years later: The following post was given to my sixth grade students as their assignment and as a mentor text. Student blogging was new at the time. This is one of the defining moments of my teaching career for multiple reasons. I will never forget the student who never turned anything in emailing me after school to get his password. He finally had a voice! I will also never forget the severe pushback I received from a small group of parents. It was disheartening as well to hear comments being parroted by students. I learned no matter how cautious and conscientious you are, when you try something new and different… you will always get negative feedback from someone. This was also where my reputation of being tech-y began. It has always been about the learning for me. Technology is just a tool to go about the learning in new and exciting ways!

My students are blogging! Iam fortunate to be at a small PK-12 school where we see kids grow up through the years, but it is fascinating to read what they say about themselves especially at this critical and formative stage in their lives.

Your first paragraph should tell the reader a little about yourself. For example:

My name is Mrs. Whittington and I teach 6th grade. I have an awesome husband and two fabulous children. My favorite thing to do is to spend time with my family. Conversations around the dinner table, being snowed in at home together and vacations are some of my most precious memories. My favorite sound is hearing my kids laugh together in the other room. I also love to read and listen to music. One thing I like to do that you might not know is that I like to create things. I have made everything from cakes that look like a forest to newsletters and decoupaged furniture.

In From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, Claudia wanted to learn everything about everything. Later, she decided to focus just on one thing and become an expert on the mysterious statue. She developed a passion for the statue called “Angel” and the mystery surrounding it. Passion is defined as a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something. When people have a passion for something, they want to learn more about it and often become an expert at it. What do you have a passion for that you would want to learn “everything” about and become an expert? Your second paragraph should tell about your passion. How long have you loved this thing? What do you already know, and how will you learn more about this passion?

My passion is learning and helping others find the excitement in learning. I know that might sound a little strange to you, or maybe not since I am “the teacher.” What I have found is that no matter what sparks my interest from time to time; I love researching, reading and learning more about it. More than that, I love to see students excited about learning. Learning does not always have to be monotonous and boring, it can be an exciting journey. I am passionate about helping others see that as well.

My hope in blogging is to learn more by thinking about and writing about what we are learning. I also hope we will be able to connect with other classrooms around the country and the world to help us ignite the passion of learning!

Teachers: How do you help students continue to love learning or reignite the love of learning? What about those necessary, but somewhat monotonous things that they need to learn. Are there benefits in learning that not everything is fun?