Though I've been in education for nearly 10 years now, I never actually set out to be a teacher. In college I majored in Psychology and I've always had a passion for counseling, mindfulness, personal growth & such. What initially attracted me to teaching was the idea that I could bring those concepts I loved, and knew were transformative on a deep level, to kids at an early age. But in the midst of the chaos that comes with being a new teacher, I got lost in learning new acronyms and how to write properly formatted lesson plans & lost touch with the other things in my life that I was really passionate about.
As the years went on, I continued to keep my love for teaching and my passion for self-growth in two separate worlds. At times, especially over summer when I had more down time, I thought I could blend the two somehow but the demands of the year would kick in and I would begin to make excuses like "there just isn't enough time" or "this is fluff, I need to focus on academics more". While teaching was a passion of mine, and it's certainly possible to have many, my love for connecting with others on a deeper level was my strongest desire and the longer I ignored it, the more unhappy I became with my job. Over time I began to blame my career, saying things like "my job won't allow me to...(do this, that, or the other)" What we focus on grows, so the more I let myself believe this, the more I began to falsely believe that this particular career path was causing my dissatisfaction.
Of all the movies to create a shift in someone's mindset, Happy Gilmore would probably be the last one you'd guess! Even though I'd seen it several times before, the message in the movie hit me differently this one particular time & it made me start to think differently about how I viewed my job.
In the movie, Happy is a mediocre hockey player who reluctantly begins to play golf in order to raise money for his grandmother. He resists his natural ability to play the game because of his preconceived ideas of what it means to be a golfer and, instead, continues to identify as a hockey player because that's where his passion lies (referring to himself as "a hockey player who's temporarily playing golf") But when he finally begins to bring the elements of hockey that he loves--the spirit and attitude of the game--to golf, everything shifts and he becomes successful.
Like Happy, I mistakenly believed that my love for psychology, mindfulness, and personal growth
had to live separately from my career as a teacher instead of bringing the elements of those things I was passionate about into my teaching. In a sense, I had a similar viewpoint that Happy did--the attitude that I was a counselor/psychology nut at heart temporarily teaching rather than an educator who infused her teaching with the parts of human development and social-emotional learning that she was so passionate about.
I experienced an even greater shift in both how I approached my job and in my level of fulfillment when I realized that it wasn't about carving out additional time in the day to accomplish this--it was about really owning who I was, what I believed in, and infusing those things into every area of my life, including my school day.
Whatever your passion, don't ignore it or put it on the back burner as something "extra" to do. Rather than set aside a part of your already jam-packed day, find ways to infuse what you love into what you're already doing [tweet!]. Here are some examples of how I've personally seen this work effectively:
Times are changing. The era of teaching subjects in isolation straight from a textbook (the way it was when I grew up) is ending. We're waking up and realizing that authentic learning experiences that blend several subject areas are more engaging and effective, and what really ignites that more than anything is a teacher who is fired up about what she's teaching--someone who's turned on and bringing her unique passion to what she does. Owning who you really are benefits not only you, but the students as well. You will experience increased job satisfaction and they will reap the benefits of witnessing a teacher who is modeling what it looks like to follow your bliss!
I'd love to hear from you. Were you ever guilty of separating your teaching life from the other aspects of who you are, rather than infuse those things you're passionate about into your teaching? How do you incorporate the things you love into your teaching?