You wonder why teachers teach? This. A thousand times THIS.

By AJ Juliani on September 14, 2016

We’ve all had our “aha” moments as teachers. Those days where everything clicks, the students are not only engaged but also empowered, and for a minute we remember why we chose to join this amazing (and often extremely challenging) profession.

My moment was when I rolled out the 20% Project to my students in 2011. It changed the way I thought about teaching and learning. It changed my mindset on what was not only possible in the classroom, but what kind of impact my students could have on the world while they were still in school.

This summer I released the Genius Hour Master Course and over 700 teachers are enrolled in the course, learning, sharing, and failing together while doing Genius Hour/20% Time projects in the classroom. Our Facebook group has had some wonderful discussions, but I wanted to share this comment by Sunday Crider.

It speaks to everything we believe as teachers, and why we do what we do, even when it is the hardest job in the world. Thanks for sharing this Sunday Crider!

Today was our Friday Genius Hour (Passion Projects) in all my classes (I teach Biology, A&P and Forensics, but Fridays are time to explore something completely different).

Y’all… I got chill bumps. Long post ahead.

I showed the video “The Millennial Rebuttal”, and we discussed how we can use our passions to make an impact. I had asked them all to make a list of the things they liked (their passions). And then we went through the exercise of how they could take their passion and use it for purpose. In each case, I played the antagonist so that they would dig deeper.

“I like to sew”
“I like computers”
“I like tattooing”

My response was “So?! Let’s dig deeper!”

They were to take each passion, identify a problem, and then come up with a purpose. That’s where the magic happened.

“I like to sew.” “So?!” I replied. “I like to sew,” she said. “And I know that when people go they chemo, they have to sit in cold rooms while they do it. I like to sew and I’d like to make blankets for cancer patients.”

“I like computers.” “So?!?” I replied. “I like computers and I see a need to improve how teachers and students communicate. I’d like to create an app that allows teachers to create a calendar and upload assignments so that kids could easily access them. ”

“I like tattoos.” “Really?” I said. We had discussed how women that had to have their breasts removed due to cancer often needed tattooing to help improve the look of the reconstructed version. That had caught her interest. “I like tattoos, and I want to be a tattoo artist. But I want to help those that are scarred. I have friends that self-harm and are left with visible scars later in life. I would like to be the one that covers those with something beautiful.”

This kind of stuff happened all morning. Profound stuff.

Last class ended at lunch. Student comes up to me and says, “I need to talk to you. I want you to thank you for doing this. I’ve struggled for a way to feel significant and I think I’ve found my opportunity. Thank you for doing this.”

I almost started bawling.

You wonder why teachers teach? This. This. A thousand times THIS.

Now, time to go work on some my other, my own, passion projects.

Have you ever had one of those moments with your students? Please share in the comments below!

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