By Danny Mattern
After being in the classroom for more than 20 years, I have begun to notice a pattern at the end of each of my physics classes. I’m exhausted and sweaty. Now some might say it’s because I’m getting older and I am out of shape which I wouldn’t argue with, however I think there could be another simpler explanation… Passion.
Excellence in teaching has a lot of different meanings among teachers today. For me it comes down to one very simple philosophy, I enjoy what I do. If our goal as educator’s is to see our student’s succeed then we must first get the students excited about coming to class. I do not have any secret formulas to help with this other then what was mentioned above. Passion. If I come to class and I am excited to be there and look forward to tackling the physics topic of the day then the students will see that excitement and feed off of it. Students are smart, they can and will read your mood. If you put out a vibe that you don’t want to be there, then why should they even bother to come to class? However when they see how excited I am that day to discuss friction on incline planes, they can remember the last time they were sliding down a hill on ice and they will realize how important physics is to their daily lives.
I ask them on the first day why they are taking physics. Of course the number one answer is “it’s a pre-requisite for my major.” We dispose of that answer real quick. The real reason you are taking physics is because it will help you understand the basic principles of life that we all experience every day. It’s not a “pre-req” for your major, it’s a “pre-req” for life.
I firmly believe that this should be the philosophy that every teacher takes into their classroom every single time they teach. It doesn’t matter what your disciple is, if you’re doing it then it’s important to you. Let the students see that in you and they will become as passionate of a student as you are a teacher. It’s ok to be excited, it’s ok to be passionate and yes it’s ok to sweat when you are so in the zone about calculating those coefficients of friction along incline planes! (Just make sure to shower before your next class.)