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How interesting are you?

In middle school, I began to look forward to math classes. My middle school math teacher not only made algebra interesting, he also read us stories after we finished our math assignments. In addition to loving math, he was a passionate reader, and he successfully brought that passion into our classrooms. Thanks to him, we not only learned algebra successfully but also developed a taste for good literature.

As we rush through our days armed with lesson plans, assessment schedules, meetings and the million responsibilities of a teacher, we often forget the interests and passions that give us joy and fulfillment. So many of us have stopped pursuing our intellectual and creative interests, be it reading, gardening, singing, running, writing or anything else. We feel bad, but we tell ourselves, “Where is the time?’

What if we teachers went back to pursuing our hobbies and passions? Well, I think it will not only enrich our lives but also make us better teachers. The first part is easy to understand, but the second part needs reflection. How will this make us better teachers?

To begin with, when I pursue my own interests and make time for them, the learner in me is kept alive. I remain open to trying new things and thus actively experiment in the classroom. I am ready to ‘break the script’, making the learning environment exciting and engaging for the students.

Furthermore, when I take risks and learn new things, I am able to encourage my students to take intellectual risks, assuring them that failures are not something to be ashamed of but an integral part of the learning journey.

When I am a learner myself, I have to be comfortable with feedback. If I get some criticism from my colleagues or seniors, I do not become defensive and upset. Instead, I am open to their suggestions and try to work at it.

Like my Math teacher, teachers who follow their own interests and continue learning bring their passions into the classroom in a range of different ways. A teacher who pursues her passion for music might bring music and creativity into her classroom. A teacher’s intellectual and creative life will inevitably spill into her classroom in some way. When students see, hear and feel a teacher’s passion, they become inspired to find and develop their own interests and hobbies.

Both for ourselves and our students, we all want to be interesting human beings. It would do us good to remember, “To be interesting, one has to be interested.”

So, let’s make the time to get back to activities that interest us deeply, to passions that keep our minds young and alive, thereby making us better teachers.

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