Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Once Upon a Time

I was a teacher. But it has been quite a long time ago. Truthfully, I have now been in school administration longer than I was a teacher in the classroom. Sometimes as administrators we lose perspective on what it is like to live in the classroom. Because of the passage of time it may be hard to remember what exactly got us in this profession in the first place. But I do remember that I became a teacher because I wanted to help kids in the same way that my teachers helped me.

As you know, for me it was music. The music teachers that I had in high school were phenomenal. They invested a lot of time and energy in me and never gave up; when frankly sometimes I was a typical high school kid that could be unmotivated. They always pushed me to be better, to never settle for second place and to always strive to reach the next level. When I left for college, I knew that is what I wanted to do. My dream was to have the same type of impact on young people those teachers had on me. Without those music teachers I would likely have chosen a different career. 

The question that I am sometime asked is if I miss it. Honestly, I don't miss it as much as you might think, but there are certain times that I do. I have written about those times here--for example, each fall when we have our musical I miss teaching. There was something about the musical that I really enjoyed. To see the growth in those students was incredibly inspiring!

For the past several years Mrs. Anderson has invited me to work with the high school choir the day before their large group contest. She has this idea that I am being 'helpful' and providing a different perspective for the choir. She allows me to listen and direct, hoping that I can perhaps give them a few 'tips' before the contest. The fact is I am pretty rusty and Mrs. Anderson doesn't need my help at all. She has this well in hand! Nevertheless, the students are incredibly gracious and attentive to my direction. I think they do this more for me than I do it for them. This has become one of the days that I look forward to each year!

That is the public side of teaching. Perhaps what we all think of when considering the profession. Indeed if all days looked like that! What I was honored to experience in my short time with the choir was in reality a finished product. The journey to get to there--now that is where the real magic happens. 

We are quickly closing in on the end of the school year. As we rush to put the bookends on 2014-2015 I think it is incredibly important to take a look at the journey we have experienced this year and see it for the miracle that it really was. Not only in music, but all across our district at all grade levels. 

A prime example of this can also be seen in kindergarten. Consider those warm August days that seem so long ago. Our kindergarten students spent some time at the beginning of the school year simply learning to go to school. Lining up for recess, going to lunch, remembering to take turns, raising our hands, or remembering to wash our hands. Today? Well today they can do all of those things and then some. Today they can read, write, add, and subtract.

We can apply this type of growth across the spectrum, at every grade level in every discipline. Where we started in August is a long way from where we are right now. The growth and learning that has taken place is staggering when your really stop to think about it. In many of our students, this year a light bulb came on. They were struggling with an important concept and just couldn't get it quite right. No matter how hard they tried to understand, or how much they practiced--it just wasn't there. Until one day a magician appeared and cleared the fog.

One upon a time we had a school full of children. Multitudes of children with all sorts of different needs, strategies, and attention. A target, or goal of where we wanted them to be at the end of the year was established. 

A teachers was assigned and then the magic began to happen. 

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