Do you have any other hobbies/interests that you bring into your classroom teaching? Explain.
I bring pretty much all of my hobbies and interests into my classroom. Since I write while my students are writing, that means they have to see the things I write about. I'm showing them how to pick topics based on what they care about, so I model for them with the hobbies, interests, and issues that I care about. While there are definitely topics that wouldn't be appropriate for me to bring up, I try to show as much of myself as possible to the kids. Most of them appreciate that I'm a real person, with real passions outside of the classroom. Bringing your interests into the classroom can help forge bonds with kids you might not otherwise reach.
My students know I frequently travel, and I share some of the writings from my travel journals with them. I do this for many reasons, but it mainly comes back to location. I teach and live in rural Iowa, and a large number of my students are living in poverty. Some of them have never been outside our state, and are rarely even able to leave the town they live in. I don't talk about world travel to make them jealous; I talk about it to open their minds. I want them to see the world from the perspective of someone they know, to encourage them to go out and seek adventure when they're older.
I stress to them that I didn't come from a family with money, and that I've worked hard to earn where I am in life. I make sacrifices to be able to achieve my travel dreams, and I share these stories so they know that hard work isn't just about getting good grades in school, or finding a job: it's about your future happiness, your entire life. Good things and achieving goals don't just magically happen; it takes effort and dedication.
I also share with my students my fears. I'm terrified of heights, but I climbed through the Andes Mountains anyway, because regularly confronting our fears makes us better human beings. My students often think I'm crazy (isn't the English teacher always crazy?), and I'm okay with that. I want them to see someone who isn't perfect or fearless or untouchable.
Sometimes sharing my passion with students helps them find passions of their own. My kids see me running through the countryside all the time, and they know when I'm in training. They've started signing up for more local races because they know I'll be there, and it's something special we can experience together. The fast ones like to make sure they can beat me, and the slower ones just want my high five at the end and to know that I'm proud they ran. I've encouraged a lot of of girls to run their first 5k, and that's something that could stick with them their entire life. Many of them have dreams for 10k's and Half Marathons because I talk about how thrilling they are to participate in. Creating a lifelong passion for running could have way more impact on their lives than anything I taught them regarding my content area. If I can use my position as a teacher to make a healthy lifestyle seem cool, then I'm going to take advantage of that opportunity.
So yes, I always share my hobbies and interests with my students. I even received hate mail from a parent for it once, telling me to stop talking about real life and focus on reading and writing. But reading, writing, speaking, and listening are how we express and reflect on what happens in life, the shared experiences of human existence that let us know we're not alone. What kind of English teacher would I be if I tried to separate life from language?
I teach 7th and 8th grade English in rural Iowa and hope to reflect, connect, and share with other English teachers. Iowa Council of Teachers of English Executive Board member. Iowa Writing Project superfan. UNI MA:TESS graduate.