• Marty Vieira

Share interests. Feel better. Teach better.

Teachers feel better and perform better when they also engage in worthwhile pursuits outside of teaching. When those pursuits are enthusiastically shared with the class, the students benefit as well.

I play piano for fun and have for nearly my entire life. I teach students languages but incorporate piano music into lessons all the time. Sometimes I play during an independent reading activity or when students are asked to meditate. Playing helps me be in the right mood and alleviates stress, but it does more than that. Students like to see that other side of me, that I am not just their English teacher. They appear to care more about the assignment because they can tell I care about playing for them.

When I talk to students about things like gardening or my family's plant-based eating, they see a bigger picture. Bringing up topics like those never takes up too much time, and it helps students see who I am for real. It matters to students. They then connect their own learning to life and feel more comfortable taking positive risks in class.

Not all students relate to or care about the same interests, but that is not the point. Teachers still need to show students that there is tremendous value in actively pursuing interests so students will realize they can too.

Teachers' interests vary greatly. I have observed teachers who enjoy bike-riding, video-gaming, cooking, traveling, you name it. Teaching students in school cannot be all there is. There has to be other passions that can be shared in uplifting ways. Not all interests can literally be brought into the classroom, but they can still do wonders for the teachers themselves, and by sharing those experiences with the students, it makes all the difference!

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