It Starts with Us - Connecting Innovators to Their Passions and Interests

Jim Reilly, Acting Principal Bow Valley High School - When one searches ‘helping students find their passions,’ a predictable set of tips and tricks appear. Essentially, Google boils it down to communication, asking questions, paying attention to what kids are doing outside of school and showing genuine interest in who our students are as people. This is all critical, but I’d argue this isn’t where we start.

As an educator, I maintain that the first step in connecting students to their passions is showing them how to be passionate. Passion, excitement, curiosity, and engagement are infectious. By modeling a passion for creativity, self-expression, inquiry, and growth in our work and bringing them into our classrooms gives our students permission to do the same. Bringing joy for our work and connecting our passions to curriculums and curriculums’ learning outcomes creates the space for students to attach their passions to those same curriculums and outcomes.

In other words, we start with ourselves. We model how the topics and tasks we’re working with in the classroom inspire us and how they connect to our real worlds. If we skip this step, we run the risk of being disingenuous or forcing connections that don’t really fit. Once our classrooms and our schools are places of creativity and passion, then the room to connect in diverse and meaningful ways to students’ passions and interests becomes obvious and, from my experiences and observations, inevitable.