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Uncategorized   |   Mar 19, 2014

One word that holds the secret to passionate teaching

By Angela Watson

Founder and Writer

One word that holds the secret to passionate teaching

By Angela Watson

Angela Watson

Founder and Writer

Angela created the first version of this site in 2003, when she was a classroom teacher herself. With 11 years of teaching experience and more than a decade of experience as an instructional coach, Angela oversees and contributes regularly to...
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  1. I understand the “why” in your wonderfully written blog refers to the bigger value of any particular concept we must teach. However, I would say that my “why” is always to get, and keep, children engaged and motivated. I never spend much time thinking about the “what” I am teaching (other than predicting how difficult the material is for them so I know the level of supports to provide). The curriculum and standards provide that material. My planning always centers around how can I get my children engaged and motivated with the content I am expected to provide.

    1. That’s really interesting, Camden! It’s great that keeping the kids engaged is what keeps you engaged, as well. Sometimes that is true for me, but sometimes I get discouraged when the kids are not as excited about a lesson as I am, and I allow their disinterest to weaken my enthusiasm. Have you ever experienced that?

  2. A few years back, I went through the National Board process and the WHY was at the forefront of any narrative submitted. The WHY dominated almost every question and gradually became natural to question the WHY as I worked on the WHAT. “WHY this lesson with these kids at this time” is forever engraved in my subconscious. It was truly a tremendous turning point in my teaching and gave me a true sense of awareness and empowerment. I find my students even approach their learning with more motivation once they understand WHY the content we are tackling is crucial and it isn’t just some skill and concept to add to the bucket of things they are constantly shoving in their brains each day.

    1. National Board seems to have fallen out of favor in recent years, and that makes me sad, because you’re right–the entire process is about discovering the WHY behind everything you do as an educator. For that reason, going through the certification process was some of the best PD I ever did–“WHY this lesson with these kids at this time” will forever be in my subconscious, too! I love that!

  3. Life has finally slowed down enough that I can read the fabulous posts from ASCD. I’m likely the only one whose brain is in this place at this point though!

    I put the word ‘Why?’ up in my classroom, on the wall by where we all meet on the carpet. It is right where I can see it when I’m sitting in my chair teaching. The kids think it’s there because I want them to ask why all the time – why is that right, why doesn’t that make sense, why do those two go together, why did that happen, why did I act that way. And I do want that. But it’s really there as a reminder to me to think about why I’m doing what I’m doing all the time. A quick visual cue to make me think before I respond to a child in frustration or to remind me to allow the time to follow a child’s thinking or idea or just to make me wonder why I’m teaching something.

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