They're passionate about what they're teaching and this is reflected in the engagement of their students.
They also value what their students are passionate about and try to develop this passion and use it to link to new learning. I came across this wonderful blog by Lori Pickert who writes about Project-Based Learning (mostly focused on homeschooling, but definitely transferable to traditional school).
The particular blog post which got me thinking about how important passion is in teaching and learning focuses on a book she's been reading called 'Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined'.
“Go to virtually any preschool or elementary classroom, and you’ll witness something rare: excitement. Whether it’s engagement in painting, make-believe games, or learning why the moon disappears, there appear to be very few young children with deficits in motivation. Children love learning. They want to figure out what this new, shiny world of theirs is all about.
Contrast this with a typical middle school or high school classroom. They can’t wait to get done with school and go on to ‘after-school’ activities. You ask them what they think of school, and many will say it’s dull, boring, and dry. ” — Ungifted
This is definitely something I've witnessed and something I would really like to work towards combating. Through my GATE programme I see students who hate 'learning' as it happens in their regular classroom but flourish when given the freedom to determine their own learning and to follow their own pathways without the pressure of formal assessment and externally imposed deadlines.
Anyway have a read of Lori's blog, I really think it speaks about the direction in which we need to take schools and there are some wonderful schools in Aotearoa New Zealand already heading down this track...
Check out Discovery School in Wellington, Discovery1 and Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery in Christchurch.