Passionate Teaching: How to Inspire Students

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What do you remember most about the teachers you encountered in your school days? There might have been the one joke your philosophy teacher made about Immanuel Kant in Grade 11 that still makes you laugh decades after. Or your English teacher who encouraged your Grade 12 class to get through some challenging literature pieces by allowing you to take a chance to connect with it through culturally relevant comparisons. Maybe your Grade 7 science teacher started their lesson by engaging the class in reviewing a recent sci-fi movie. These three teachers are linked by how they care about students’ success in their subject area. They can see the relevance in enhancing their lives – they want students to care genuinely! As a result, these teachers usually like to listen closely too because their passion is infectious.

What makes a passionate teacher?

Effective and memorable teachers are keen to spread positivity and genuinely enjoy teaching and engaging with students. In addition, they are reflective, open to change, and always welcome new ideas. But with all these great qualities, there is one joint driving force behind it – the passion for what they do. 

Robert Fried defines passionate teaching in his book The Passionate Teacher: A Practical Guide (2001) as “someone in love with a field of knowledge, deeply stirred by issues and ideas that challenge our world, drawn to the dilemmas and potentials of the young people who come into class each day — or captivated by all of these.” 

In Alfred Thompson’s post “Why Passion is Important for Teachers” (2007), he observed how a teacher’s passion is a powerful driver of student outcome and performance in the class. Thompson followed the progression of a mathematics teacher assigned to teach a computer science class. The teacher was experienced, but the lack of enthusiasm in computer science dampened the course’s learning. Thompson also mentions that passion is not something we can fake. 

Then what can educators do if assigned to teach something they’re less passionate about in class? Luckily, passion is something that educators can cultivate.

Just get started – be inspired!

Passionate teaching might be difficult but try starting with simple things such as searching about a topic area. You might be surprised and find something you connect with. You can also watch some Ted Talk videos or podcasts about the subject area to get inspired. 

Find a community

Talk to teachers who are enthusiastic about the subject you are trying to get passionate about. It is helpful to see the subject through another teacher’s eyes. This technique is powerful, as you will find new approaches to passionate teaching that you can try in your classroom. In addition, you can try to see how the teacher sees their subject as relevant to the students’ future. You may also find great communities online in Facebook Groups and especially Twitter under #edchat!

Try new approaches in your own professional development

It is unnecessary to reinvent the wheel when teaching a new subject that you are unfamiliar with. Many educators in your local community share tried and tested classroom approaches. Additionally, you can find relevant workshops, events, or social gatherings organized for teachers through a simple Google search. These resources allow educators to exchange ideas in new teaching areas such as Tech and Computer Science.

These are just a few ideas to get you started. Hopefully, they will also get you excited about the new challenges that may be ahead this coming academic year!  Follow us on social media to see upcoming teacher events, ideas, and tips to enhance your classroom. 

If you have any ideas, recommendations,  thoughts, or questions, please get in touch with us at ey@bsd.education, and I would love to speak more about Passionate Teaching.

about Eva
Eva is the Director of Education at BSD. She previously worked for a womens magazine but decided to blend her passion of Media and Education. She provides engaging opportunities for students to learn through authentic curricular experiences.
Eva found her calling in Education when she left her job at a Canadian women's magazine in 2012 to join the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme to teach English at an agricultural high school in rural Japan. Blending her passion in Media Studies and Education, she later returned to Hong Kong to pursue a Master of Education at the University of Hong Kong followed by a PGCE with the University of Sunderland.

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