Today was the first official day of Podstock. Brad Flickinger was the keynote speaker this morning and many of the things he said really resonated with me. The title was “The Secret Path to Great EdTech Lessons”.
Brad quickly revealed the “secret” is passion. Igniting passion in students is the only way to get them excited about learning. The first step was instilling curiosity and he showed some of the ways that he does that – through projects and extracurricular activities. He said once students get just a taste of success, they will continue to work hard and do well. It is human nature – we feel that small indicator of success and we want to try again – and do it better next time.
Brad is a dynamic speaker. His style pulled me in and even though he was talking about elementary projects, I could see ways that his ideas could work for my schools. He talked about making everything seem real so that students will work harder – if they know something is contrived, they will give less effort to it.
I sat listening to Brad’s sincerity, being pulled in to the peaceful idea of students achieving because they are excited about what they are doing, when he decided to give us the real “secret”. This secret wasn’t about igniting passion in students, but was the surprising benefit of focusing on students . . .
Teachers regain their passion for teaching when students are passionate about learning.
So many teachers are burned out – tired of the administrative tasks, tired of the uncertainty of political agendas, tired of fighting against apathetic students. Many of them end up leaving the profession or retiring at the earliest possible moment because they just can’t continue. What Brad talked about just might be a solution.
Later in the day, as I introduced myself for my presentation, I talked about the Girls of Technology – an organization I co-created to build a sense of community among girls who have chosen to follow STEM career paths. What it has become is so much more, and I have found myself even more passionate about that organization than I was the day we first began brainstorming the creation of it. I thought about what Brad had said – that the passionate students didn’t even have to be the ones in your classroom – they could be an after-school organization, a sports team or a band – the result is still a teacher with a renewed passion for education.
I thought back to my first year teaching, when seeing just one student’s face light up during a pond water lab gave me the energy to teach another year, and I really understood what Brad had said.
We saw a similar dynamic yesterday during LaunchMe, when Ben Honeycutt gave his presentation about Open World – a solution created by students to solve a real-world problem. His talk, and the passion behind it, ignited passion in the educators who witnessed it and helped us remember the reason we are all here.
Let’s all try to find our own passion by igniting passion in our students. It is all about them, but what an awesome and unexpected result – loving our jobs again, remembering why we started in the first place, and making a difference in somebody’s life.