Fast forward three years and another passion has emerged for him. Science Fair! And again, a teacher encouraged and supported that passion.
Beyond the shear joy of knowing that the teachers who are with my children a good portion of the day are connecting, supporting, and encouraging along the way, I wonder whether I can be as effective in my teaching practice?
What are the things we must do as teachers to really engage our students to help them find their passions?
There is no hard and fast formula but this is what I've been doing in my current practice.
1. Take an Interest
Connect with students about what it is they like to do. Whether it is sports, a hobby or whatever. I really try to engage students in conversations about what it is they like to do. And I try not to judge if it may not be something I don't like to do.
2. Care about Them
It could be as simple as nod and a word when they are sitting outside the office or if they injure themselves on the playground in some way. Take an interest. Sometimes I just sit outside the office just before my prep and after the bell has sounded to end outdoor recess. I engage students in conversations as they enter but most approach me with a story, a riddle or just to talk.
3. Help them to Learn
For me it can be software related but it doesn't have to be. It could be a good series of books, a project they are working on or some school related task. It may be an encouragement to stick with it when the project isn't going so well, or an offer of assistance with a particularly difficult task.
I'll admit, I may have days where I may not seem approachable at all. It could be just the business of the day or school related tasks that need to be completed. On these days I don't feel quite as connected to the students as I should, but we all get days like that.
There are many things that influence us to be all that we can be with students, even after 30 years in the profession, like me. Certainly one of the universals I try to follow is that All Students Can Learn. I guess I'm a good example of that. I still consider myself a student and have developed strategies to be a daily learner and so have many of my colleagues.
But most importantly it has been teachers-along-the-way who have encouraged and supported the journey.
Photo: My young lad receiving best of show honours from the local college president at our regional science fair.