by guest blogger Donna Donner
On September 8, 2016 #G2Great hosted a chat, Inspiring Our Work Through a Sense of Professional Curiosity. This year I embarked on a new path in my professional journey. After the end of my first week of a new position in a new school, this was just the right dose of reflection I needed. The topic of curiosity is so important to me as I begin this journey.
The dictionary says, curiosity is a strong desire to know or learn something while the thesaurus calls it ‘a spirit of inquiry’. I was in the classroom for so long and loved every moment with my students but I knew something was nagging at me – that something more was out there for me to explore. So as I joined in on the #G2Great chat Thursday night I reflected about what curiosity meant to me.
On my 10 year anniversary my husband and I went snowmobiling through Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. Temperatures plummeted to 40 and 50 degrees below zero but we still spent up to 10 hours seeing everything we could before the sun set. We didn’t let dangerously cold temperatures stop us. We were inspired by the beauty and the unknown. We were curious.
Just as I am inspired in my personal life, I am equally inspired in my professional life. Leaving my 5th grade classroom was hard, like being exposed to the plummeting temperatures. My desire to know more and be more is like the inspiring views of the boundless beauty on my snowmobile ride. My curiosity protects me from the fear of change. That “spirit of inquiry” ignites a “spirit of curiosity” for my professional journey.
As I continue to think about what curiosity means to me, I looked back on our first question. I was inspired by #G2Great tweets that led me to five key ideas that will support my thinking this year.
Professional curiosity really begins with the individual
As Lauren points out, curiosity ignites something wondrous in us. We feel alive, happy, and motivated as we explore and discover. It must be my curiosity that drives me to want to be the best because it is not competition that fuels my fire. I am not trying to be better than anyone. I don’t even know where I am going to wind up but my role as a reading teacher affords me an opportunity to move in that direction as I explore the possibilities ahead.
Professional curiosity inspires our commitment to keep learning
My decision to leave the classroom has been years in the making. My passion for all things literacy landed me as a reading teacher, a coach. So when I saw the question, What does professional curiosity mean to you? I knew this was important. My curiosity was fueled by my passion that brought me down this path, but now I want to be sure I stay curious as I sift through the initiatives, mandates, and difficult days. Chris Quinn’s tweet reminds me that professional curiosity is what links me to a growth mindset and my commitment to keep learning. This year I will commit to embracing a growth mindset as I navigate my new role to collaborate with teachers and grow side-by-side with them.
Professional curiosity flames a sense of wonder in all we do
The first day of school usually meant welcoming wide-eyed 5th graders into OUR room. I had my routines, my classroom management and best practices down to a science. This year as the doors in my new school opened, I was fortunate to stand by and watch through my admiring lens as teachers welcomed THEIR new students. My curiosity piqued as I learned how amazing and unique teachers are. I learned so much in my first week about how change can be the flame that keeps my curiosity burning.
Professional curiosity inspires us to do our best work for students
Spanish, Arabic, and Polish are some of the languages spoken by the students in my new school. I have absolutely no experience with this. How can I possibly be in my profession for this long and not know how to help students? This is a very vulnerable position to be in as a teacher. I am a person who likes to have control over my teaching. I took the hand of a lovely 4th grader who speaks only Arabic. I speak only English. We walked down the small corridors and stopped at things I thought would be important for her to know. Girls bathroom, the office, the BOYS bathroom, and the fire extinguisher. Together we practiced saying the words that matched the places we visited. On this day, my curiosity inspired me to take a baby step for this one child within this one moment.
Professional curiosity inspires collective commitment to our students
During the chat I realized that I was feeding my professional curiosity right on the spot. Fran reminded me that professional curiosity is about wanting to know more for the sake of our entire community of learners while Kari reminded me how this drives us towards figuring out what we can do to have the biggest impact. Suddenly, it hit me! My curiosity isn’t just a gift for self-fulfillment It’s a gift to be shared with others so that we can collaborate in a shared commitment to our students. I know that my impact this year will always lead back to children.
As I reflect back on the words of wisdom and inspiration from our #G2Great community, I am inspired by the impact of these dedicated educators on my own thinking. I am EVEN MORE COMMITTED to “the spirit of inquiry” and the question that will continue to enrich my professional curiosity:
What will you do this year to enrich your professional curiosity?
Read more about Donna’s thinking at 4 O’Clock Faculty