Finding Your Passion Now: What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

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One of my favorite traditions that I started when I became a principal five years ago has been inviting students to my office to eat lunch.  Each year every 3rd, 4th and 5th grader has been invited.  (This past year the task was monumental at my new school as we have over 600 students in those grades alone, but I got it done!)  I like to utilize this time to get to know the students, hear what their interests are, and receive their feedback on their school experience.  I always ask the students what they want to be when they grow up.  My thought has always been that I am getting the students to at least visualize a future, knowing full well that almost all of them will change their minds about what they want to be numerous times as they are growing up. But something changed this year when I asked that question.  This change has a lot to do with my connections and readings on Twitter.  I have learned a lot about maker spaces and Genius Hour in the past year and my mind-set has definitely been steering towards students creating, making, and doing and how we can create these opportunities in school. So when I asked students this year what they want to be when they grow up, I took a different spin when some of them answered video game designer, dance, movie maker.  I asked them, “why can’t you be a video game designer now?” They shouldn’t be thinking, “well I’m just a kid”.  Not anymore.  Not when there are many children following their passion and finding out all they can about what interests them. Genius Hour definitely encourages the why not now mantra.  Students should be spending time researching a topic that excites them.  They should set goals for learning about this topic and decide how to share their learning with their class, the school and the school community.  Their teachers should be providing these opportunities and assisting students through the process, ensuring that standards are still met while incorporating the Genius Hour concept.  Parents should be thrilled about this concept too, as their children are learning how to learn, probably the most important skill of all.  I not only believe that students will become more excited about school, but they will truly discover their passion and maybe determine the path they want to take in life. The question is not “what do you want to be when you grow up?” anymore.  The question is “why aren’t you doing it right now?”.

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