by Brett Pierce

While the answer to this could be a volume unto itself, the author of this article from the Chronicle of Higher Education, cites Personality, Presence, Preparation and Passion. But it’s his choice of lead property that has me most intrigued.

Passion. The author, Robert Jenkins, writes, “Passion …manifests itself in the classroom in two ways: love for students and love for your subject matter. The point is that teaching is, in a way, like a relationship. You have to work hard sometimes to keep the passion alive, and yet it’s vital that you do so. And if you don’t, students pick up on that, too.”

It makes sense, doesn’t it? But at first blush, the very word ‘passion’ simultaneously evokes unconditional enthusiasm and out-of-control drive. It’s a slightly unstable word, passion. But inside the often-constricted structures of formal education, this essence of instability – in favor of love of subject – is welcome.

But back it up for a beat. Along with Passion, this author notes Personality and Presence. In creative terms, we are talking ….character. A character with a passion for …subway systems! Songbirds! Sonnets! Or …Algorithms.

To quote from the infamous Sesame Street song: “one of these things is not like the other.”

Preparation. What’s that ‘practice’ doing there, amidst these other three character traits? Here’s my read: Preparation grounds the ‘passion’ from spinning out of control;  focuses the ‘presence;’ and optimizes the personality around ideas that matter.

It’s an extraordinary recipe for humanity: Personality, Presence, Preparation and Passion. A standard that aims very high. But you’re a teacher. You already know that.