I find it exciting that more and more educators are talking about the importance of student voice and passion in learning. It some ways it seems silly that this seems to be such a revelation, and I hope these conversations translate to actionable changes that improve learning experiences for all students. So, where to start? Seems likely that we need to start by inspiring teachers and encouraging them to incorporate their passion into their practice. But how?
During our recent iLearn Summer Academy, we began the week by having every participating teacher think about how they would define their passions & creatively incorporate them into their practice. Surprisingly, this wasn’t as easy as it sounds. Then throughout the week, teachers shared their passion with the group using a modified Ignite style presentation. I was speechless after many of these short presentations from teachers! Who would have known we had a national footbag champion among us, or that teachers passions and expertise outside of the classroom ranged from horseback riding to Mexican folk art. Not only was I impressed by the hidden talents and passion of the groups, but the sharing of passions in this format created amazingly strong bonds in a very short time among the teachers. I couldn’t help but think about how a classroom, a school staff or an administrative team might be transformed by taking the time to share, acknowledge and nurture personal passion. Do you know the personal passions or native genius of every member on your team? If not, I would challenge you to take the time to discover and share personal passions on every level of your organization.
Defining personal passion is a great place to start, but the inner cynic in me knows that isn’t enough. Passion is an important foundation but it must be combined with hard work, investigation and determination. Just this week a colleague reminded me about the Google video on “Moonshot Thinking.” (If you haven’t seen it, I encourage you to watch it. It is well worth the almost four minutes.)
This is it! Moonshot thinking builds on passion, but recognizes that so much more is needed. When people embrace moonshot thinking they are actively choosing to be bothered by problems that don’t seem to be easily solved and commit to working towards solutions. “People can set their minds to magical, seemingly possible ideas and bring them to reality. That set’s people on fire and makes them think about things that were impossible are actually accomplishable.” If we successfully ignite passion in all learners and embrace Moonshot Thinking, the possibilities are endless.
Contributed by Alyssa Gallagher, Director of Strategic Initiatives & Community Partnerships