There are people, events, memories that come up from time to time that influence us in ways we cannot anticipate. Then again, it is up to us to be influenced and aware the impact our environment has on us.
Today I am taking a step forward. Met a teacher who has been at this longer than I have, watched him work with a group of students and just had a great energy in everything he was doing. Positive, passionate, patient, persistent, even in a short while really made me remember what it is I am striving to become. How do I inspire reflection or motivation or energy in others? Who is it that I want to be?
In his closing remarks, he stated, “If you get anything from me, I want it to be that passion and energy can do so much.” Moving with a purpose in mind, being driven to create or refine, to solve, we need to ask ourselves what it is we are doing each day. Envision who it is you want to be, what kind of person, and direct your day-to-day decisions toward these visions. Reflect on the ways you accomplished a goal and how each step in the process came as a result of a purposeful thought, however minute.
Redirecting my thoughts, what kind of person do I want to be in order to become the kind of teacher I want to be? The best teachers I know could be described as caring, persistent, lifelong learners, and genuine people. It is a step by step process every day. Live in the process, love the process, grow through the process. Then take a look back every once in a while to see how far you have come. I truly love the analogy of climbing a mountain or a long trail, not because it is ‘uphill’ or difficult as it could be, but that there are various paths to take and choices to make. Some are switchbacks that gradually take you up, others could dip down for a short breather, and sometimes you just trudge straight up towards the false summit (because the journey does not end when we reach a goal). On any of these trails, there are moments to look back and see what led to where we are, to appreciate the culminating impact of each small step.
Coming back to what we leave our students with, how do we pass on a concept like a love of music, perseverance and discipline, or passion in everything we do? Teachers and administrators set the tone, yet it is up to the student to ‘buy in’ and achieve. In pondering the many ways we create an atmosphere in our classrooms and schools, it takes me back to small steps. A vision of students supportive of one another in a creative environment improving instrument techniques who feel confident in sharing those creations with many others. Alright, if that is the vision, where do we begin? I do not have a recipe, yet each decision I make will be directed by this overarching idea.
Now, to nail down my lofty philosophical babbling a bit with real-world applications. There are certain traits that I can and will incorporate more right away in my teaching. Early on, one of my mentors probed me about a particular student who was frustrating to work with. She said that the students who frustrate us the most are often the students we will learn the most from, find out why they are frustrating. We do not choose who walks into our classrooms yet we are there to teach them. As I type, there are several kids on my mind who need something else from me in order to be successful in the environment I am establishing. Another way to articulate this, I care about everyone who comes in and I am working to show that in what I do. If I could really make clear one thing, it would be that the energy put towards a student signifies a belief in their potential. I may email a parent to check on missing assignments, pull them aside during a passing period to ask how their football game went, bother the kid who is always late to change when they go to their locker, arrange a song for the group to play because some of them have been learning it by ear. Teachers go out of their way for their students all the time, striving to lead students to their potential. However, at the end of the day, it is up to the student to absorb and use the information or concepts we present. We will still do our best to show them how.
Long post short, today I am taking a step forward. Every step leads somewhere, hopefully the ones today are taking me towards that image I’m aiming for, it feels like a good philosophy for now.