3 Observations That Let You Know You’re Doing Your Job: A Beginning Look at Passionate LearningPosted: May 22, 2012
“People settle. They settle for less than they are capable of. Organizations settle too. For good enough instead of best in the world. If you’re not going to put in the effort to be my best possible choice, why bother?” ~Seth Godin, “The Dip”
It is the last week of the school year, and believe it or not, the students know the exact time and date I turn in my grades (which was Monday morning of the last week of school). The students are assuming that there is no more work.
I tell them, “When it comes to my class, it’s not about grades, it’s about completing your work and doing your best until the very last day.”
Friday is our party half-day, so here is what we were busy with for the next four days: 8th Grade US History and 7th Grade World Geography classes were developing a blog plan, complete with a home page and an about page, that combines their personal voice/interests to what they have learned this year. We researched what blogs looked like, the jargon it entailed, what widgets were available, and we analyzed how they were written. We did not launch these blogs online, instead they printed out their work like it was a display page that I would exactly see on a computer screen.
During the week, the students were focused on their work…they forgot that the project was not going to be part of their grade, they simply wanted to complete it. One of the teachers asked me, “Are you still giving an exam on the last week of school?” I answered no and asked why. He said, “One of your students was really hard at work on study hall yesterday.” When a student is passionate it shows.
So here are 3 observations that let you know you’re doing your job:
- Students say, “What, class is over? That was fast.” I find it a compliment when my students say this. It means that the class did not drag, it wasn’t boring, and it wasn’t a waste of time. Another way to think of it was that the students forgot about the clock. They were all about getting their work done. This doesn’t have to be inclusive to teaching. Don’t you find that the most productive and focused days you had at work was when you didn’t know where the time went?
- There’s a buzz or a murmur in the classroom. The only time I expect complete silence is when I am talking or when a student is talking. One of my rules is that when someone talks, everybody listens. When it is a time to do their activities, their drills, or individual work, there’s a buzz or a murmur in the classroom (not the whole time, you’ll hear segments of silence too). I would walk around and hear them share ideas, give clarification on the directions, and give suggestions on how to make the work easier. Don’t get me wrong, there would be some small talk mixed in there, but those never last long. Work wise, I remember spending time in my father’s office, an Engineering and Construction Company. A busy day at the office meant an exchange of ideas coming from one office to another, people huddled in looking at a blueprint pointing at it and discussing about it, and front desks filled with workers receiving directions. There was no room for loud talk or irrelevant conversations at the time. When my goal is to prepare the students for a job in the real world, why not imitate the good things I see about it and infuse it in my classroom?
- You dismiss the class and the students say, “Noooo…” I love this, it is another compliment for my class when I actually have to shoo them away. I think this says that it’s not only the lessons I deliver that make them want to stay; it’s also the environment that I put them in. When they feel safe, when they are doing what they like, when they are doing something meaningful, when they know they could do it, why would they want to go? This goes with any type of work. Whether they are going for the industrial job track or the online producer guru, or being in the freelance business, it’s not about the job, it’s about the work.
PASSIONATE LEARNING: When an individual is passionate, they get lost in their work.
I thought of this concept when I was conducting our community band. The beautiful thing about working with people who would volunteer their time and their energy is that they are not there for a grade or for a reward. They were there to play their instruments and perform music. And that takes work. So if this works musically, why not academically?
Passionate is not about getting by; it’s pouring everything of us into it.
Here’s a second look at Seth Godin’s question from above: “If you’re not going to put in the effort to be my best possible choice, why bother?”
DON’T SETTLE FOR MEDIOCRE, GO FOR YOUR BEST.