Sharing success stories allows teachers to get new ideas and to revive the passion of the profession, middle-grades educator Susan Lucille Davis writes in this blog post.

Comparing it to Show and Tell in elementary classrooms, Davis offers suggestions to facilitate idea exchanges, such as giving colleagues 5 minutes to present a lesson or a new online tool from their classrooms. “In the end, it also places a high value on self-directed learning by asking us to be accountable for our time and to our colleagues,” she writes. 

With the rise of MOOCs, Edupunks, and other radically transformative notations of school, I hear a lot of talk about building capacities for independent learning in our students. Where will this come from, I ask, if we do not re-awaken the desire and capacity for learning on our own within all of our teachers?

This may not be as difficult as it sounds, if we revive a much beloved learning tool from childhood: Show and Tell.

The Importance of Passionate Play

I don’t know about you, but I loved Show and Tell. I couldn’t wait to bring my favorite doll (a Maori child in custom garb my father had brought back from New Zealand) or book or seashell to class. I squirmed in my seat as I listened to my classmates and waited for my chance to share.

I also loved Show and Tell because it presented learning as play rather than chalkboard or workbook instruction, and because we sat in a circle rather than in long lines facing the front of the class.  I loved Show and Tell because it involved telling friends about something special we had learned all by ourselves.

Play, if you think about it, is fundamentally self-directed. When we play, we willingly fail; we embrace trial and error. Play encourages openness and risk-taking, what-if thinking and connection building. Show and Tell gives its participants a forum for telling the story of our play and experimentation with the things we are most passionate about.

Yet when do teachers have the opportunity to feel the kind of freedom and exhilaration that comes from sharing their learning passions?

The closest I’ve come stands out as one of the best professional development experiences I’ve known: a FedEx Day (celebrated by Dan Pink in his book Drive and now called ShipIt Days by Atlassian, the company that invented them), in which we carved out time for teachers to pursue a passion and report back “overnight.” We were moved by our librarian’s story of returning to watercolor painting for the first time since her children had been born decades earlier. We were inspired by another teacher’s determination to learn how to combine Skype with a Promethean board lesson, two technologies he had never used before. Most of all, we felt the passion of exploration and creativity that we wished to ignite in our students.

Continue reading about how to revive the passion for the teaching profession.

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