The Evidence of Passion

Some may argue that I should have saved this entry for a date closer to Valentine’s Day.  However, it is not my intention to write about the passion that describes romance or desire in a relationship.  Rather, I want to spend some time reflecting on passion and motivation.

For some time now I have been contemplating the notion of motivation – especially in the context of teaching and learning.  I was reminded of my quest yesterday when I visited an administrative team at one of our schools.

Our meeting went something like this.  Upon arrival at the school, I was greeted by cheerful, welcoming front office staff who appeared genuinely pleased to see me.  Then, the principal and vice principal emerged from the meeting they were in, welcomed me to the school – both of them quick to point out their “bright and attention-getting ties” (which were impossible to miss).  With a gust of energy I was ushered quickly into the library where the vice principal set up the Smart Board.  I thought the demonstration was for me to see.  In fact, this wasn’t the case.  Apparently the Smart Board presentation was part of their previous meeting.  Almost impervious to the fact that I was present, these two keen administrators engaged in a conversation about how the vice principal would be using the Smart Board to connect with his face-to-face students at the same time as connecting via video conference with students enrolled in his class but who live and attend school elsewhere in our District.  They spoke excitedly about this project which will join students from two schools together in a Math class for a semester.  Suddenly the conversation turned and they began brainstorming about how they might engage other staff members in the project and encourage, by example, the use of the technology.  As suddenly as the conversation started – it ended.  Both administrators looked at me and said that we could now move to the principal’s office to begin our meeting.

Once we were settled in the Principal’s office the next 1.5 hours of my visit flew by as this dynamic duo shared with me the initiatives that had been undertaken at their school:

  • A focus on relationships,
  • Flexible scheduling based on identified student need and interest,
  • Recognition of the skills, talents and backgrounds of a diverse staff – and capitalizing on this diversity to address student needs,
  • Involvement of the community to support student learning,
  • Flexibility for students between indpendent learning opportunities, and classroom based learning opportunities,
  • And the list goes on…

All the while – the mantra “we start with the students” resonated throughout the conversation.

So, back to the beginning.  What are the factors that have motivated this team of leaders?  How was their passion for student success, staff success and individual success for each of them awakened?

It reminded me of an Andrea Bocelli concert I watched over the Christmas Holiday.  This may seem like a stretch to some.  But it isnt, really.  Mr. Bocelli has worked for years to develop and master his talent.  Something touches his soul when he sings and, in turn, when he sings the souls of his audience are touched.  His passion for music is evident – with no glitz or distracting business on the stage, he simply stands humbly and sings the most beautiful music.

The passion of the two administrators I observed yesterday touches souls and changes lives. This passion is motivated from somewhere deep within their persons.  Nobody has given them more money.  They aren’t seeking the attention of others.  They are curious, keen and connected to the people in their work.  Humbly, they perform their craft – because they are passionate and motivated.

My question still isn’t answered.  My quest continues…


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2 Responses to The Evidence of Passion

  1. To take it a step further, Jeff, I think that teachers/educators can be a powerful source of inspiration for students to follow their own passions. Personally, I LOVE my job and I’m not afraid to let colleagues, and especially students know it. And why not? I LOVE to read, to write, to utilize technology; to create; to have the freedom and flexibility to try different initiatives at school; and to collaborate and with (and support) several people (teachers and students) everyday. Not one day is EVER the same. Ever.

    But sadly, the opposite is true for most of my colleagues. Most feel strangulated by government exams, frustration by curricula that is just an exercise in memorization and ‘jumping through hoops’, rising financial restrictions, and a VERY inflexible schedule/timetable. Even if you gave them the choice of complete autonomy and freedom over their courses (and how they operated them) almost everyone of them would return to their comfortable or ‘habits-die-hard’ form of teaching. Sad, yes. But true.

    One part about my job that I’m not afraid to say that I dislike more than any other is curation of the the textbooks. Ugh! What a time and money wasting event/resource this truly is…
    Every semester as I’m creating a sign out schedule I’m hoping to be inspired by a colleague–that they’ve decided to forgo the textbook for the semester.

    I’m still waiting (and hoping)…

    • jjonessd08 says:

      Hi Jeff,
      Thanks for the thoughtful response. It is wonderful to hear how passionate you are about your work. I do believe that we can work collaboratively to make our way through the barriers that we see – whether they are perceived or real. When ALL of us start to challenge our habits, and our mindsets, there are many open windows for moving forward – over the threshold to a preferred future in Public Education.

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