What Makes a Passionate Educator?

11/22/2010 06:45 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

With the overemphasis on testing and scripted curriculums, passion-driven education is starting to lose a foothold and responsible educators and citizens have a responsibility to keep that from happening. Angela Maiers has a series running on her blog profiling guest posts from a diverse group of educators who are passionate about learning. I encourage you to check out the other authors who have posted in this series. Below is mine; cross-posted on Angela's blog.

Often when I'm frustrated with education, either globally or within my own classroom, others remind me of the reason for my frustration. "It's because I'm a passionate educator," they say. Comments like that leave me wondering what that means, and why aren't all teachers passionate about what they do? I can't answer the second question, but I have a pretty good idea on the first one. What makes a passionate educator?

In my opinion, a passionate educator:

  • Takes the time to get to know each student; even if it means not sticking to a pacing chart or meeting other arbitrary deadlines. After all, individual and informal conversations are rarely built into the curriculum.
  • Gives her students a forum for self-expression and a wider audience.
  • Recognizes and responds when the curriculum needs to be adapted; even without an IEP, EP or 504 plan.
  • Stands her ground even when there's nobody else to stand there with her (or so she thinks).
  • Is not afraid to push back against the Big Dogs.
  • Knows (or at least makes an effort to recognize) which battles to choose with parents, administrators and peers.
  • Devotes time, energy and (sometimes even) money to personal and professional growth. Aside from attending conferences, there's plenty of free venues for professional growth. 
  • Shares openly and engages in conversations with a diverse group, near and far.
  • Is not afraid to expose herself and share shortcomings.
  • Is not threatened by other's achievements, but encourages and supports them.
  • Pushes herself out of her comfort zone to learn and use innovative tools.
  • Knows that taking time to herself is just as important as doing for others.

What do you think? What have I left out? (And, can you help me answer the first question: Why aren't more teachers passionate about what they do?)