It's that time of year again. Here in East Texas, the rain begins. Instead of a balmy 107, it's a steamy 84. School supplies are in every store, and everyone is racing to get ready for the first day of school. We start later than most people in America, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Once we get settled into our classrooms, the rains end and the temperatures raise once again. We all feel pretty lucky we get to stay inside an air conditioned building.
School holds many opportunities. Whether you are starting pre-k or your last year of college, you are in a state of learning. It's exciting yet scary at the same time. This might be your first year in a new school, or you may have just moved into your dorm room-and your roommate may not be even remotely similar to you. What you must remember is: that it's all about the experience. You will learn more from the experience than anything else.
I'm a middle school orchestra director. I get kids right in the middle of their developing minds and bodies. They are confused and frustrated-and they'll tell you that too. They are brutally honest, even when you don't want them to be-yet, you want them to keep being truthful all their lives. I have the opportunity to teach them something completely new. Most of them have never tried to play a stringed instrument, and now they have the chance.
They get to learn the language of music. The history behind every piece we play. They learn that music is math and science based and that music is the deepest form of communication there is in this world.
That music is a bringer of peace and love and hope--when you can't find those in your daily lives; follow the music.
But---that's not what teaching is all about. As a teacher, we wear many hats. But the coolest thing a teacher can do, is to take that hat off for a few minutes a day, and learn from our kids. They know more than we think they do. They come with knowledge that we didn't at their age. Sometimes their wisdom can shock you and make you think. They can also really help you with technology! Take what they know and where they come from and create valuable lesson plans that they can tell their children one day. We want them to become great pillars of society. It doesn't matter if they go and graduate from some Ivy League university; what matters is they learn to set goals for themselves, they have a rock solid dream, and they go for it. That they never allow anyone to sway them-because our job is to teach them more than how to take test. Yes, that's part of it-but there is so much more. They have to know the outside world isn't a bubble sheet, but it can sure feel like one big test.
We have to teach them to overcome great barriers that life may throw at them. We must teach them that life isn't always fair, and that even though they may set goals--they must be flexible in the way they meet them. That life isn't about the destination, it's about the journey.
While we are being honest--I haven't met all my goals. Sometimes I feel I never will. But I keep going after them. Why? Because I had people teach me everything I wrote in the paragraphs above. I'm not the best at bubble sheet tests and I never will be. But I'd like to think I'm pretty good at creating beautiful music.
I'm a musician and very proud to say so. Before I was a musician, I was a fan.
I'm an music educator and very proud to say so. Before I was a teacher, I was student.
Going into this school year, let's be mindful that we, as teachers, were once in our students place. And students, please know we were once where you were.
Let's have a strong and safe school year!
Fiddle on my friends!
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!