Being passionate. It is something high on the list of qualities for an ECE teacher, and rightly so.
There is certainly a need for passion if we are to serve our children well, and to rise above the level of care that is called ‘good enough’ in our sector, but we know is not good enough. We want to offer exceptional care, and passion seems to be one of the major ingredients needed to make this happen.
It seems though, as if we have a very absolute view of what it means to be passionate - seeing it as something we either are or we aren't. 100% or 0%, nothing in between. We fear if we're not brimming with passion at every moment that perhaps our time in ECE has expired and we should be looking elsewhere.
But is this how it works?
Is it realistic to expect all passion, all the time? We don’t believe it is realistic, or even necessary.
An all or nothing approach set us up for failure. We’re human. We will have inconsistencies, strengths, lulls, and bursts. Sitting at less than 100 percent passion overall, or in certain areas don’t make us unsuccessful in our work.
We can have a month of low all round energy, and our career isn’t over. We can be honest if we’re not actually passionate about paperwork and jumping through compliance hoops, and still be a great teacher.
It is also worth considering that if we see every single aspect of our job description as our passion, then really we have no areas where we really shine - no one or two things that make our hearts sing. We need those sparks that shine brighter for us than the rest.
We don't have to cover every base with such fervour as that's what makes our team so important. Everyone has passion areas and their own contribution to make. Let's not rob ourselves or each other of the right to have our passions for some things and not for others.
Where the misconception seems to be is that being passionate is what holds us together in this job. There's an idea that without passion for all of it, we won't do all of it.
But that's not the case, because there’s another key ingredient that ensures we do what is required of us - commitment.
Our role is one of service, to our children and families. We commit to that, even if some aspects of the job are less appealing than others. It's not as dull a quality as it sounds. It is more stable than passion perhaps, but the two compliment each other beautifully.
Commitment can hold the fort when our passion has left the building, and if we feel our commitment waning, remembering our passions (or discovering new ones) kicks it back into gear.