While in the lobby waiting for a doctor’s appointment this last Christmas break, I picked up a copy of Good Housekeeping magazine and flipped open to an article entitled “The Happiness Boomerang” by Gretchen Rubin. It’s a really inspiring article about the joy that comes from service, but the part that struck me the most was an anecdote about Mother Teresa, the nun who served the poor and hungry in Calcutta, India. Her work was so admired that she received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. She asked that it be given to the poor in India. Rubin says about Mother Teresa, “When a person begged to join her mission or asked how to imitate the example of her life, she admonished, ‘Find your own Calcutta.’”
Find your passion. Find the cause that gets you fired up and motivated to help. Find your own Calcutta, the place you can make a positive difference in others’ lives. Hopefully, if you are in the education field one of your passions is, well, education. But what else are you passionate about?
One of the other things I did over the break was visit my dad’s work. My dad is a chemist and works for a papermaking company. He works with the chemicals left over from the papermaking process and finds uses for them so they do not go to waste. He gave me and my siblings a tour of his building and explained all the things he does. It was cool for me to see his eyes light up as he described what he does all day. He is passionate about his job.
On the way home, we got started talking about my passion for teaching. He told me his third grade teacher was the reason he became a chemist; she was the one who first got him interested in science.
This made me realize that part of being a teacher is helping others realize what drives them. You can be passionate about your students being passionate!
How can you do this?
- Passion is infectious, so if you communicate your passion for learning to your students, they will catch on and internalize that passion themselves. Share your interests with your students.
- Encourage your students to explore new topics and pursue the things that interest them.
- Help students build their own passions. A passion might not be something that is just stumbled upon one day. This is something that I understand within this major. I have wanted to teach since I was very young, but since coming to college, I have hit some times in which I felt like I had “lost” my passion for teaching. I have even considered changing my major a couple of times. However, I have learned that I can’t just wait for passion to come and hit me one day. I choose to be passionate about teaching and pursue that for my education. I think this is a case where we need to act and not just wait to be acted upon.
- Show them that achieving a task or vision takes sacrifice and hard work. Mother Teresa gave her time, talents, and even money to the people of India.
As a teacher, help your students actively find their own Calcutta and you will change their lives, like my Dad’s third grade teacher.