004: Living on Edge of Chaos – 5 Questions on Passion Driven Classroom

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Show Notes

This show will focus on the following 5 questions based on my prior podcast on Passion

Questions/thoughts I have been thinking about:

1.  How can I balance a passion with reality?  Seems like when I have a passion, it can turn in to an obsession where I am thinking about the topic and wanting to work on various tasks related to the topic all of the time, which can then take away from time I need to be spending with my family and the mundane chores (dishes, laundry, etc.) that need to be done.  I’ve been trying to think of ways to balance the two.

2.  If I  am in one of the “valleys” where I don’t seem to be passionate about anything, how can I get “fired up” again?  Maybe watch motivational videos, reading blogs, keep up on the latest and newest technologies?

3.  Can passion turn into stress if I get too absorbed?  (Back to the whole finding a balance idea)

4.  How can I address 100+ students’ passion in my classroom? I am brainstorming ideas  for projects where students can work on a topic that they are passionate about.

5.  I am still thinking about the question, “What is my wow?”  I am wondering if it would be beneficial to do an activity with my team where we share with other team members what we see as their strengths.  For me, it is easier to see other people’s strengths than my own.  This might help to identify my wow.

Theme Song: All credit goes to 


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001: Living on Edge of Chaos – Introduction

I am back to the podcasting world.

This episode is the first of my new podcasting series titled, “Living on the Edge of Chaos”

This particular run of podcast episodes will focus on the cutting edge ideas that are not yet mainstream, but will hopefully one day be something that all educators implement into their teaching.

This podcast series is my personal edge of chaos goal by creating a weekly show.

I give much support and thanks to Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher) for helping me get back into the game of podcasting to help share out my ideas beyond just this blog.

As always, I would love for you to leave any feedback or comments on iTunes, this blog, or Twitter (@coffeechugbooks)

I would really love a ratings and/or reviews on iTunes to help get my messages heard by more people. I would be eternally grateful if you took 5 minutes to do so. Let me know if you do and I will send you Thank You Note!


Here is the episode



This link will link you to all previous episodes

The song intro was created by the iTunes app Figure – https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/figure/id511269223?mt=8

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3 Levels of Passion #coffeechugPLN #bettpassion #coffeechugPLN

It was not too long ago that I gave my first presentation on my current self PD – Passion at the World Council of Gifted and Talented Center.

Since then, I have continued to toy around with the concept as I know I am not quite where I want things to be. It has been a pursuit to really identify the issue that I am trying to battle and solve.

I have done some illustrations to work through my ideas.

Just a few weeks back I crafted my latest sketch where I was digging deeper into this notion of passion.

My passion thoughts diagram. Blog post coming #coffeechugpln

Working with students on our latest project titled BettPassion and speaking with teachers and other people online I reached this idea that there are three levels of passion. Right now I am giving them the names of Fans, Hobbies, and Career.

Fans – this is what I consider Level 1. This is where you have a passion for something in your life, but your skill set is very low or does not exist for this particular passion. This makes you a fan. For example, I love college football. I watch my Notre Dame Fighting Irish every weekend. I love it! However, I am not equipped with the skills or body to be a collegiate athlete(disregard the age factor!). I could never play at that level. Being a fan allows me to sit and enjoy the game I love. No problem and nothing wrong with this.

Hobbies – this is what I consider Level 2. At this level you have passion for something, but as opposed to not having any skills, you actually do have skills with this passion. The problem at this level is that there is not a “market” for this combo and therefore you are not able to sustain a living. This becomes a hobby. It makes you happy, you love challenging yourself, and you devote a lot of time to it, but you cannot make enough income to go full time. For me, that would be blogging and nerd toys. I love experimenting with both. I devote a lot of time, resources, and manpower working on my blog as well as tinkering with the latest and greatest nerd toys. I would also say that triathlons fit this bill as well. Regardless, I cannot make a living off of these items. Actually, these hobbies cost me money! They do help give me a purpose to my life.

Career – the last level is Level 3. This has the perfect intersection of passion, skills, and a market. When you find this intersection of all three you have found your career. It is at this point that you no longer have a “job” because you should be loving what you are doing. You have a chance to live your passion while making a living off it. This is the sweet spot and a place we should all try to achieve. This is something that is attainable for anyone. Talking with many people and some who disagree with my platform(who I love for challenging my own thinking!) I think that establishing these levels brings into focus a more realistic set of expectations when discussing passion. I know I have hit the sweet spot because I love what I do which is teaching.


What are your thoughts to this new thinking?

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Adults don’t always understand vision of kids. Let them SHOW you! #choose2matter #bettpassion #coffeechugPLN

My worn out shoes seen here in this post tell a story. A story that opened my eyes at a time that could not be more perfectly placed.
My daughter Ava is 2.5 years old and she struggles a bit with speaking and formulating words. It creates frustration for both her and us at times when we cannot understand one another properly. Yesterday, Ava and I went outside after she was having a moment that all two year olds have from time to time:). After finally getting outside she became angry because she clearly wanted something else. I assumed she was tired and just being a bit whiny. She kept trying to go inside even though we just came outside after she was throwing a fit to be outside. During this moment I was growing frustrated because I did not know what she wanted. She was growing frustrated with me because I was not helping her meet her needs. It was quickly becoming a lose lose situation very quickly. The reason was simply because I was being a typical adult.
I assumed everything wrong.
All she wanted was to go inside real quick to bring me my shoes. She wanted to put my shoes on so we could go play. 
I felt terrible. Here I was misinterpreting what she wanted and all she wanted to do was help! It was at this moment that it hit me!
Tuesday, we are blessed to have Angelia Maiers come to Bettendorf to work with some of our 8th graders. These students will have an opportunity to have their voices heard. Students who we don’t always give a chance to have their voices heard will be able to share their ideas and enact on a topic that they hold dear to their heart.
I wonder how many times our students/own kids behave a certain way to try to convey an idea or message to only have it misinterpreted by adults? The reason is because sometimes we just don’t know how to express what we need to get off our chest. If we can work to help kids help express their ideas and at the same time work with adults to help them not jump to conclusions how many great ideas could be enacted on?
Working on myself as both a father and as an educator I hope to work on my own skills of helping students get their ideas out. I think sometimes the hardest thing to do is to convey ideas that are vital to our own lives. 
Simon Sinek discusses in his book how “our behavior is affect by our assumption or our perceived truths. We make decisions based on what we think we know.” I wonder how often as educators we make improper decisions based on false assumptions?
All these ideas are swirling in my head and I cannot wait to put them to practice.
I am so excited to work with Angela and teachers of Bettendorf to help students find their ideas and passions to pursue. We will work very hard to help students broadcast to the world their ideas. We want all kids to share their ideas.
The biggest obstacles I see are the following
  • students not confident enough to share their ideas because they think their ideas are not worth it or important enough.
  • students stripping away the label and brand they have crafted for themselves as students. I really believe the best ideas to come forth Tuesday will come from the students who are considered not the best students.
  • students really working with others besides their friends. Diversity is key when it comes to brainstorming
I know that personally these are the three things I will strive to work on with the students Tuesday and throughout our semester long project. I know Angela will help to eliminate these issues through her workshop. I know that Tuesday students will not be the only ones learning!
My goals with this project are personal as well. I will try to be a better father and educator by looking inward and adjusting how I treat situations where I don’t always give people the proper time to share what they need to share.
I thank my daughter Ava for enlightening me at the most crucial point in time as I get ready to help students change the world!
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Check out the amazing chalk illustration for the Passion Project! #coffeechugPLN

After providing my slides and Passion Project Challenge to people at a conference and online I realized a major flaw with the system in which I asked my audience to share their PASSION through some simple activities I realized a major flaw!

Teachers are just like students and need examples before they share. 

So I will be sharing my examples on the Passion Project website over the next few days.

Today I have uploaded two examples of using chalk to showcase Passion and finding ourselves.

Let me explain my image that I constructed. 

PASSION – right in the middle. I still need to find a more powerful word to convey what I am trying achieve, but for now this word will do. I believe that teachers and people in general need to be able to identify what it is in life that moves them, makes them want to get out of bed in the morning, and make a change. Not many people really know this answer, but I believe it is at the epicenter of all of our actions and what we do with ourselves.

HEART – What do you love? What breaks your heart? What eats away at you that you wish you could solve or lend a hand with? These are the questions you must ask yourself when trying to identify your passion and your greater purpose in life. By finding these answers you will be on your way to making things happen.

E – Comes from a mind blowing book titled, The One Thing, by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. It stands for Entrepreneurial Approach. What this means is doing the things that come naturally to you. I love the idea, but will veer off their ideas and spin this to my own thoughts. These are often the things we do well that we don’t realize. This is where having a powerful tribe around you to help you identify these traits is important. I experienced this firsthand this summer working with some amazing educators who helped me find myself. These are the skills we should focus on to make our classrooms and lives better and more rich and satisfying.

P – Comes from the book also. P stands for Purposeful Approach. These are doing things that come unnaturally. They argue this is where breakthrough happens. I don’t necessarily agree 100%, but what I will argue here is that we must push ourselves beyond our Entrepreneurial skills to reach new heights of accomplishment. We have to think differently about getting things done. In order to achieve your purpose we have to work outside our comfort zone sometimes. By doing this we are increasing our zone, acquiring new skills, and inching one step closer to making our Passions happen.

?+ – means to question. Ask the good questions. Put the facade questions aside and really drive to the heart of the matter. This is tough to do, but without real conversation how will we make progress? Many people don’t like this because they really have to look inwards on themselves and sometimes they don’t like the answers. We need to be brutally honest and have dialogue with our tribe. We have to be willing to understand that it is not a personal attack, but a moment in which we understand ourselves more so we can move to the next step on our journey. 

I would love many more examples. I think it is very important for educators to showcase their ideas, thoughts, and ideas with the world. We need to share and the more we share the more our students will follow our footsteps.

Please read the ideas and instructions in the links below. Email me your work so I can upload to the Passion website.

Next week I will be leaving Post It Notes around to further lead by example. Will you lead in your school?

What will you share to help spread the message of Passion in education?

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Reflection on Passion Driven presentation: 1st time is scary! #wcgtc13 #coffeechugPLN

This morning I had my second presentation at the #WCGTC13. It was the first session of the day bright and early at 8:00 am. This particular presentation I was more nervous for than the global one yesterday because this would be the very first time I have spoke on this topic.

To speak on Passion in under 30 minutes is very challenging. I developed a Passion Toolkit for my Passion Project along with several questions and back channel materials for this topic. I had to fly through this to get to the root of my topic: In order to have a Passion Driven Classroom teachers must stop, look within, and discover their own Passions.

If you read this blog, then you know I preach passion all the time this past summer.

Here are some links to some posts about passion from this summer

Passion Toolkit Goes Digital

Digital Version of Passion Driven Handout

Passion Starts With The Eyes: Don’t Lose Your Students

Passion is the key to education

Coffeechug Cafe Podcast: Passion Driven Classroom

Can We Push Our Kids Too Far And Too Much?

Without going on another rant here are my reflections on this presentation.

  • It is easier to speak to many compared to very few. Literally three minutes before the start there were three people in the room. However, I had a decent crowd when it was time to rock and roll. 
  • Sell yourself – this is part of my presentation, but due to my presentation yesterday I believe that people showed up today who did not even consider my presentation prior. You have a chance to be heard and make an impact so you better run with it. This applies to the classroom.
  • Passion Toolkit LAST – I moved my slides all around with fear of running out of time. Ideally, I will go back to moving my toolkit slides to the very end. It was hard to bridge this without speaking on my thoughts about passion first. It was not a good flow. Slides have been changed.
  • Examples: Teachers love examples. I want them to lead the way. I hope to get some great cultural examples with who I spoke with. Fingers crossed. I want more than just American ideas!
  • Questions: If you get questions, then you know you have sparked thought. I had some amazing questions. Although I may not have the answers it challenges my thinking. I learn so much from the crowd.
    • Can school/administration/policies affect the atmosphere of passion in schools? 
    • What examples of passion can I share?
  • Even more important is the self internal question: Is what I am preaching really passion or am I lacking the proper term? I think I am trying to go beyond the scope of the definition of passion. It is not tangible. It is something that is felt, beyond a manipulative, and can be a deep passion depending on the person AND NOT SOCIETY parameters
I am working heavily on this topic. The word PASSION may change. The intent will not. I am developing an online workshop on this topic to dig deep, working on PD for teachers on this very topic, and trying like mad to develop a book. It all takes time and I need more conversations like I had the last few days at the #WCGTC13. 
Here are my slides. 
If you would like for me to send you the Passion Toolkit or would like to chat further let me know. I am working on interviews/conversations on this topic. I need to know more about where people are coming from. I need more perspective than my own thoughts.
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Passion Toolkit is revealed! Find out how to share your PASSION! #coffeechugPLN

A few days ago I shared out a digital version of my handout for my upcoming presentation on Passion Driven Classrooms.
Today I wanted to give you a glimpse at the Passion Toolkit that I put together with the help of my wife. This is my handout that people will pick up when they enter the room.
The toolkit has been designed to be very simple to use and yet incredibly powerful to share PASSION!
Here is quick rundown of each item in the toolkit and what to do with them. You probably have these items around your house so please take part and participate! The more the merrier.
Take a Post It note and write a message sharing your Passion, draw some artwork, write a quote, etc. Anything that spreads your own individual PASSION. Take your Post It note and leave it somewhere for others to notice. Even more important is that you take a picture so I can add it to the Passion Project website.

Same thing with the chalk. Take your chalk and write a message somewhere spreading your PASSION. For me this summer has been about challenging my comfort zone so I have been making myself do a zentangle at least once a week. I am not an artist, but it forces me to work on something while finding myself. What will you do with your piece of chalk.

When students come to school they view teachers as all the same. They group us in this pile of Mr. and Mrs. What are you going to do to separate yourself and classroom from the rest. Students view us a blank piece of paper. Pretty blah! How will decorate your blank notecard to show students that your are full of PASSION? We must share our PASSION if we want students to celebrate their own. Decorate the notecard anyway you want to showcase your PASSION! Be ready to WOW your students on day 1.
The clothespin is the bonus item. I have not plans with the clothespin so I am leaving this item to the masses to find a way to showcase PASSION. I am ready to see what you come up with.
Don’t put this off. Do it now! If you wait you will forget and your PASSION will go unnoticed. Be proud. Dig deep. Identify your PASSION and share it with the world. The more we share the more powerful we can become.
So, please rise to the challenge and submit your PASSION. Send me an email at aarmau@gmail.com and I will add your PASSION message to the website.
As always I would love your feedback. This is something new to me. This is not your typical presentation handout. I am a tad nervous, but excited to see what generates.

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Check out awesome digital version of the Passion Driven Handout. #coffeechugPLN

For those of you who cannot make the World Council of Gifted and Talented Conference I have made my handout digital.

This postcard is one piece of the Passion Toolkit that I am creating for this presentation(toolkit will be shared shortly).

I used the website Thinglink which is an amazing tool if you have not yet experimented with it yet.

Above is the postcard. I took images of the front and back of the postcard. I then merged them together using Keynote and then did a screen capture to make it one image.

From there I uploaded the image to Thinglink and then added the hyperlinks accordingly.

You can hover over the sections and a button will appear to take you to the sites and links.

In case the buttons do not show up on the image above here is the link to go to it directly.


I would love to hear your feedback as well as have you take time to answer the questions on passion posted on the handout.

In a few days I will share the Passion Toolkit. I am assembling them as we speak and waiting for one more item to arrive in the mail.


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Help Needed! Passion Postcard Chalk Project #coffeechugPLN

I will be speaking on Passion Driven Classrooms at the World Council of Gifted and Talented Conference coming up in two weeks. I am very excited along with a mixture of nerves as this is the biggest speaking event I have been part of in my career.

Today I was working on finalizing my speech and typing it all up and prepping the necessary materials. A week ago my wife came up with an amazing idea that I have now developed and ready to test out.

At the end of my presentation I am going to challenge my audience to begin to think about and spread their passion right then and there. I am hoping that it will spark a positive vibe with messages spreading at the conference and beyond.

As I was working on the website to share their examples I realized that I need some examples to help jump start the motivation to submit works.

So, I am asking all of you blog readers and members of the #coffeechugPLN to help me.

I am asking for the following which is the same as my presentation. I will be providing my audience with a Passion Toolkit. It will contain post it notes, a blank postcard, and a piece of chalk. My challenge to them will be to spread their passion, take pictures, email the images to me so I can load up the website.

Here is a basic part of my speech about the toolkit:

We are going to start right here, right now by sharing our passion. I have provided you a Passion Toolkit. In this minimal toolkit you have a massive amount of power to share your passion.

I have equipped you with a piece of chalk. Right here at this conference, I challenge you to write a message about passion on a sidewalk or somewhere where chalk can be used. Spread the message. Don’t be scared. Take a picture and share it online on twitter using #coffeechugPLN or share it to me by emailing at aarmau@gmail.com
Second I have provided you a postcard. It is blank. At the beginning of the year, every student views teachers as all the same. They group us in this blank category of a bunch of Mrs. and Mr. What image are you going to paint on the blank canvas of their minds to leave a powerful impression that you and your class is worth their time? The challenge is to take this blank postcard and decorate it to showcase your passion. There are no rules or restrictions. How will you brand yourself to stand out to the students? Just like the piece of chalk please share your design online via twitter at #coffeechugPLN or email me. I have built a website that will showcase all the postcards and chalk designs of passion. I hope to spread this message and continue to add to the site as I present and network with people. My goal is to share, spread, and offer insight into the minds of so many amazing educators across the world.

I thank you for allowing me to present and look forward to possibly connecting with as many of you as I can during this conference or beyond. Thanks and let us start sharing our passion today!

I will share the link to the website in a few days. I have a few things left to create and modify before it goes public. In the meantime I asking all of you to help by creating messages on post it notes, sidewalk chalk on sidewalks/driveways, and taking a postcard/blank card stock and showcase your passion. What is you WOW? that students will associate with you. 

Please create some great messages, quotes, artistic designs and email to me. I will upload and share the link in a few days. The more examples I have the better I think the outcome will be for this presentation.

Thank you for considering and look forward to the amazing ideas that you awesome #coffeechugPLN tribe members will contribute!
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Why did I create #coffeechugPLN?

I was fortunate enough to be interviewed by Vicki Davis for the BAM Radio Network. This was my first interview and podcast and I was nervous. Overall, it was a great 15 minutes to drive and chat about education with Vicki who I have blogged about several times and is not only an amazing person and teacher, but also a mentor and one who I watch, read, and try to learn as much as I can.

During the interview we were talking about PLN and connecting with other teachers and she asked the question about why did I want to create one more Twitter chat when there are already so many good ones out there? What a fantastic question. It is so good that I have not stopped thinking about this question since the interview.

So, what is my answer to this question? Is it as simple as I wanted it to be? No, I don’t think so. If you uncover the true meaning I think it is much deeper. I answered the question the best I could during the interview, but I feel I have more to offer.

I want to create my own tribe. I have a mission in education. I want teachers to feel their passion and not only feel it, but act upon it. I want teachers to change their own ideas, be challenged, and think about topics in ways that perhaps they have not thought before.

#coffeechugPLN is designed to be 24/7 and not just for the actual chat that takes place once a week. I want our tribe to be powerful. I want #coffeechugPLN to stand out and be a purple cow. This question has made me really reflect what I hope to gain by doing this and I love it.

With this question in mind I have placed together a rough draft framework of some big ideas coming down the pipleline. I am beyond excited that I sent out a tweet

#coffeechugpln has some great things in store. Stay tuned. Working on making this movement really take off and go places in education
— Aaron Maurer (@coffeechugbooks) July 19, 2013

Yes, there are so many excellent Twitter hashtags and chats that already exist. Many of them are better than what I have. Many of them have 20x the participation. But it is not about numbers, but the content and quality. As I work through the growing pains of helping teachers and thinking beyond yourself things will take care of itself. It is not about recognition, but about movement and change. So many of us have been in education long enough to know that things move slowly. I want #coffeechugPLN to be that Purple Cow that causes change to happen faster and it starts with educators. We will make it happen. And it will be exciting.

I want the discussions and ideas to be outside the box and help teachers see things in a new light. I want teachers to feel empowered by what they do. I want them to begin to realize that they have a voice just like our students.

And as always, I give a big virtual hug to Vicki for once again challenging my thinking and helping gain insight into myself and the direction I want to go. She may not have intended this one question to have such an impact, but that is what great leaders do. They inspire and push people beyond their current thinking. #coffeechugPLN is attempting to do that very thing. I would not be where I am today without her guidance and encouragement along the way. Her words have kept me going when I doubted myself and questioned things. I follow her and learn from her every week.

Last, I would like to compare this network to a light beacon. A beacon does not know who it helps or inspires, but at same time a beacon helping people. It is not about recognition, but knowing that by helping others, the help will come back around to help you out. By constantly sharing and networking the PLN will increase. It is a give and take.

My goal is that my voice stays original. I will never be fake and will always speak the good and bad from my experience and learning journey. What I share are my ideas. I will never tell anyone what to do, but hopefully what I share inspires others.No BS. I want to be authentic and passionate about my ideas and education.

I hope you consider joining the #coffeechugPLN and connecting and sharing. It is going to be one heck of a journey as we all learn together. I look forward to making the tribe stronger and more passionate than ever before.

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