April 2018: Find your ed tech passion

Kathy's Katch

I feel technology should always support teaching and learning in a meaningful way. And I know you do, too. As educators, we try new ideas, hardware, and software as they become available. But how do you decide on your real passion in the area of educational technology?

I challenge you to step back from your experimentation with the “cool new thing”, whatever that might be, and go deep into a topic you are interested in and passionate about. It’s time to find your ed tech passion!

Once you do that, I want you to share that passion with others. One way to do that is to sign up to give an Ignite session at a regional conference. (My blog post from 2/1/17 includes ideas from the Discovery Educator Network on developing an Ignite session.) I promise you will have no problem talking about your passion!

Here’s an “Ignite-like” talk I gave on my passion for the origin of words.

 

HOW TO IDENTIFY YOUR PASSION

My favorite definition of passion comes from my Alexa device- “An irrational but irresistible motive for a belief or action”.  What makes us passionate about one top and (yawn) feel ho-hum about another topic? What are some questions you can ask yourself and some things you can do to help identify your passion?

Here are some questions, adapted from the online article, “Find your passion with these 8 thought-provoking questions“.

  • What is something you believe that almost nobody agrees with you on?
  • Who have you been, when you have been at your best?
  • What are your superpowers? 
  • What did you enjoy doing at age 10 that still resonates with you today?
  • How do you continue to develop new passions?
  • What is your sentence? 
  • What are some methods you use to embed your passion in to your teaching?
  • Do you have some strategies to help fuel your creative juices?

And, this article on The Muse site suggests some methods to help you escape the frantic pace of everyday life and make the search and exploration of your passion your priority.

  • Slow down.
    • Get away from the “noise” of your daily life.
    • Nurturing your mind and body can lead to more creativity and energy.
  • Be your own life detective.
    • Notice the things that make you the most happy.
    • Use a journal to jot these things down for a week and see what strands emerge.
  • Give yourself permission to explore.
    • Use your journal notes to look for more activities you love.
    • If something does may you feel as interested as you thought, drop it!
  • Reach out to people.
    • Find others, online or in person, who are already “experts” in the topics you decide to nurture.
    • Ask them questions and have them guide you to other related topics, too.
  • Stay open and flexible.
    • Remember to “go with the flow” because you may wind up on another passion path than the one you thought you were going to develop.

One really neat way to give yourself the permission to develop your passion is to participate in the 30 Day Challenge. Matt Cutts’ short TED talk on this topic is brilliant and includes some great tips for completing a 30 Day Challenge!

FINDING YOUR EDTECH PASSION

I have developed some very powerful ed tech passions over the years. I would study a topic I was passionate about for  year and then present about it.  Some of my favorite passions over the years include:

However, my challenge to you is for you to investigate, research, and experiment to find a single passion and share that with others, as well as encouraging them to find their own passion!

HELPING STUDENTS DEVELOP THEIR PASSIONS

Students should be able to research, investigate, experiment, and use their experiences to develop their passion. One popular model for allowing them the time while at school is called “20% Time” or “Genius Hour”.

The 20% Time model comes from the early days of Google. “We encourage our employees, in addition to their regular projects, to spend 20% of their time working on what they think will most benefit Google,” Page and Brin, the Google founders wrote, “This empowers them to be more creative and innovative. Many of our significant advances have happened in this manner.”

This 20% Time model gave employees the time and latitude to pursue a passion. There were a lot of neat tools that came out of this passion-based model, and, with the Google Labs initiative, the rest of us were always given access to the beta versions of these creations. However, I personally have benefited from the 20% Time model at Google (as many of you may have, too) since the Google Certified Teacher program was the brainchild of  Cristin Frodella, who was in the marketing department back then (and still is as the Head of Marketing for Google Education). Her 20% Time project was to develop a program to help teachers use the Google tools in a way to impact instruction, and the GCT program was launched!

Genius Hour is another popular model for giving students a more unstructured time period to explore their passions. Some educators have a Genius Hour once per week at the same time and others split up the time over a number of days of the school week.

Here are some links to articles of successful classroom practices with Genius Hour.

FOLLOW-UP

Back in 2013, Paula Naugle (a DEN Star) created a 10 Day Passion Challenge project. The questions she created for students to investigate their passions work just a well for educators. Pick one or more of these questions to answer and leave a comment or an idea.

  • What is your passion?
  • When did you realize this was your passion?
  • Do you know anyone else who shares your passion? Tell us about them.
  • How much time do you spend a day, a week, or a month pursuing your passion?
  • What or who helps you pursue your passion?
  • What things do you own or would like to own to pursue your passion?
  • What interferes with you pursuing your passion and why?
  • If you could interview an expert about your passion, who would you choose? Why?
  • “Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion.” (Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel) How do you feel about this quote?
  • What do you think might cause your passion to change as your career advances?
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