Thursday, September 25, 2014

Teaching

      I have almost completed my first month of teaching for this year. I have been thinking a lot about my profession lately. My schedule changed a bit so this year seems a little more hectic but the past few weeks have reminded me how much I love teaching. Here are some notes from the trenches:

- Everybody gives middle school kids a bad name. These kids, trying to be adults, can be the sweetest little people. If they know that you care about them, most of the time they will attempt to do what you ask them (or at least the minimal expectations).  Some of them will go way above and beyond because you took the time and effort to invest in them. If you have prejudged them, they're smart. They can usually tell that right away and you have just made yourself (and your class) unimportant to them.
- If you meet a teacher don't say things like "Oh! You're the music teacher. How FUN!" or "Wow, it must be so nice to not have to do anything during the summer" or talk negatively about other professionals in the building. (or other people's children.. that's really bad too.) You should show interest in what your child might be learning and sharing information about your child is helpful too- especially if they're struggling with something you know that teacher is trying to work on in class.
- Music is an extremely rewarding subject to teach. I have been blessed over the past few weeks while watching kids discover that they're pretty good at things they didn't know they could do, listening to 75 kids ending the day in song, and seeing the students grow in their musicianship over a period of a few years.
- As a teacher, sometimes I know that I am one of the only adults in a student's life that actually cares about their well-being. It's not many kids, but even 1 is just too many. I'm happy to say that I have not discovered "this child" yet for this year but I know that I am very important to many of my students.
-Yes, policies, standardized testing, administration, colleagues, students and parents can all be annoying but I really do love what I do. (And I can be annoying too.. sorry.)

      Here are some things that I have experienced over the past few weeks that have made me smile:
- 8th grade students in a choreography lesson. Adult enough to want to do a good job and have their movement fit to the music but kid enough to be HILARIOUS while doing so. It always surprises me which kids get really into this lesson.
- Having someone in administration mention me in a meeting as someone who works really hard. I wasn't in the meeting and I didn't even know this person had any idea what I actually do. I don't like a lot of recognition or a big deal being made, but an acknowledgement of my efforts over the past years was really touching to me.
- When you give 6th graders a bunch of junk and tell them to make it into an instrument, their creativity will amaze you. One group "invented" an instrument that "sounds like a mix between a trumpet and a dying whale."  It was beautiful.
- I have a group of 8th grade boys writing an opera based on Phineas and Ferb. They make me smile everyday.
- I have to walk my 5th graders from recess to my room every day. I hate lines. I secretly change the pace, walk in zigzags to frequently stop just to see how many funny things they will follow me through. Only 1 girl has caught on.
- I have 6 students who consistently take a few minutes after chorus to straighten up the chorus music.  They have no idea what a blessing it is to me that I don't have to crawl around in my room making sure everybody put their music back where it was supposed to be and that it is neat.
- I got 4 super nice parent e-mails. One e-mail from a dad thanked me for exposing his son to something that he (dad) was really interested in and opening up lots of conversation at home. He also said that he was discouraged at the state of music ed support in our school but very excited that his son had me as a teacher. This kind e-mail touched me deeply. It probably took him 5 minutes to write it. I wish we all did that as parents.
- I have no 7th grade girls who are eye-rollers... yet! Amen.
- I ended my day on Thursday just enjoying listening to my 7th/8th grade chorus. I switched from the role of director to accompanist for a few minutes and just felt proud of all their hard work and how lucky I am to be a part of the lives of these kiddos.
- New students keep signing up for chorus. Friday I had 2 really nice, super sweet 6th grade girls try it out. I always lose a few at the beginning of the year but I think this year I have gained more than I have lost.
- I had 10 students (out of 38 who had the project due) turn in their projects early so I didn't have to grade them all at the same time. They're all high quality work too!
- I got confirmation that we will be bringing a group of current students to see a former student playing a lead in the national tour of Cinderella.
- Every student who says "thank you" or "have a nice day" after a class.
- The fact that I get to laugh at myself every day as well.
-Having 2 days off for Rosh Hashanah. I'm not Jewish so I spent today going out to lunch with my husband, getting a massage and hanging out with my kids once they got home.
- An former student of mine, now in 9th grade, saw me after a faculty meeting and came up to give me a big hug and tell me how much she misses me.
- New lessons that work and watching the engagement of the kids.

    Wow.. I could go on for a while. Unfortunately, sometimes when I hear negativity I can get drawn in and I could write a list just as long and a lot less edifying. I was reading Psalms last night and I read Psalm 141 which said:
Set a guard over my mouth, Lord;
    keep watch over the door of my lips.
Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil
    so that I take part in wicked deeds
along with those who are evildoers;
    do not let me eat their delicacies.

   I am not a person who will purposely do anything "wicked" but I can be negative and critical.  I am hoping that I continue to have a great year and that I check in with the blog more often. 

Question for you:

In October I am hoping to join up with 31 Days, I'm having a hard time deciding what to write about. Any ideas? It would be a good time to jump back into primarily writing about my mail but I'm willing to write about anything people are interested in reading about. :)

Have a blessed day! I'd love to hear from you if you are a new reader (and some old friends too!)


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