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Passion at the PT

December 12, 2013

I had an aha! moment about the power of passion during a recent physical therapy appointment.  My PT, Mike, had booked the last session of the day on Thanksgiving Eve hoping the extra time would help him better understand the cause of the hip pain that had plagued me for months. When I walked into the office, I was surprised and thrilled to be greeted by Megan, a former history student of mine.  She was home from graduate school, where she is earning a doctorate in physical therapy, and had decided to spend a few hours of her vacation helping out her old boss.

As Mike and Megan put me through my paces, I tried to remember back to when she was in my U.S. History class.  Megan did well, but there was nothing exceptional about her work.  The future PT was intelligent, but she never had a passion for the content and rarely did her work in my class match her work in A.P. Biology.  To be honest, history was a subject that didn’t come easily for Megan, and I give her credit for working diligently to master the material.  While she was willing to come for extra help, her work never really stood out from her peers.

Yet, there was nothing average about this professional who was thoroughly enjoying finding new ways to help/torture me.  There she was on the night before Thanksgiving working for free and refusing to go home in order to help Mike understand why my hip hurt so much.  At one point as they explored their options, I was out of the conversation entirely and could watch Megan in her element.  She had the look of pure delight on her face.  Big smile, tons of energy and concentration, completely engaged.  Megan didn’t have to work at this.  Physical therapy came naturally to her. It’s who she is, and PT is clearly her passion.  It’s that passion that made her want to give up her free time to come in and do what she loved.  It’s that passion that fuels her desire to excel as a physical therapist. Helping people recover from injuries is her super power and according to my PT, “Megan has more talent than another other person I’ve’ve ever trained.”

As I look back, I wonder what I would have done differently to empower Megan in history class.  Clearly, I should have paid more attention to her passion for science and used it as a catalyst for success in history.  I should have worked harder to make connections between science and history.  Perhaps I could have utilized the concept of Genius Hour and let Emily explore the history of physical therapy by designing a project that integrated the subject of history with her passion for science.  This experience underscores why it’s necessary to differentiate my approach in order to connect with students.  I need to remember that not every student has a passion for history.  Sure, some do but there are plenty of interests that are just as engrossing as studying the past (it’s hard to believe).  Most importantly, as a teacher, it’s my job to find ways of bringing that passion to class to ensure the best possible learning outcome for all of my students.

  1. Glorious Results of a Misspent Youth permalink

    Great that you take the time to engage your students on their level rather then dismissing them as someone who may not be particularly strong in the subject.

  2. Dave permalink

    Marissa – Thanks for your kind words, but I really wish I had been better about seeing Megan’s strengths, which really were exceptional. Had I adapted my class to those strengths, I am sure she would have done better in class. That said, I am overjoyed that she has found a profession that utilizes her super powers.

    Thanks for reading my blog. I appreciate it!

  3. Anonymous permalink

    Well said, David. This post touched my heart… ( And, brought a tear to my eye).

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