How do we maintain enthusiasm and engagement that is inherent in the beginning of the year throughout the first few months? How do we prolong first-week excitement? How do we sustain wonder once newness starts to lose its shiny sheen? How do we sustain our own energy as we become cognizant of the marathon rather than the sprint that we are engaged in? These questions are at the heart of our September #blogamonth topic.
To start a fire we must have spark. The flint in a learning community is passion. Passionate teachers who are dedicated to not only their students learning but their continued growth and development. At the beginning of the year, enthusiasm for the year ahead may masquerades as passion, but the spark that this enthusiasm offers is often short lived and time constrained. True passion, is a near constant source of spark that can be called again and tapped into again and again throughout the year.
Even with a great fire starting tool and successful ignition sparks, there will be no fire without tinder. The quality of your fire is at least equally reliant if not more reliant on the quality and fire receptivity of the tinder you have as it is to the igniter. In our setting, the tinder is the learning culture. How receptive are the students, teachers, administrators, and parents to the great passions presented by other stakeholders? How quickly are we ignited by the power of a wonderful idea or conversely how quickly are these passionate sparks extinguished?
Oxygen is the life source of fire. Deprive the fire from “breathing” and its light and heat will smolder. For schools, the community must serve as the oxygen by which the passions are fed, maintained and spread.
How do we keep the fire going, growing, and creating a new?
Similar to a fire we must combine all three components to keep the engagement and investment in our schools.
Flint – We must offer opportunities for all members of the school community to have opportunities to share their passion and have the voice heard.
Tinder – We must create and maintain collaborative cultures of learning in which individual teacher’s passions are supported, appreciated, and received by others in the community.
Oxygen – We must support the great passions of our stakeholders by community investment. This investment is not inherently one of finances, though it can be, rather it is an implication that we must honor the passions of our stakeholders by moving from idea to action as a community.
The intersection of these three components enables a school to maintain the first week excitement throughout the year; affords all stakeholders the opportunity to learn, grow, and dream with support; provides for a dynamic and engaging student experience; and always provides a source for a good roasted marshmallow.