No, not my biological kids. (I mean, look at them they’re all teenagers, and there are 24 of them lol) But you know, they may as well be my real kids for how much I love them.
I haven’t been a teacher for very long. I’ve taught before, but not like this. Not in this life-changing, soul-changing, heart-changing way.
Some of these kids have been with me for almost two years, some barely one. But in my heart I’ve known them longer. Because I’ve gotten to know them through a very special way: music. I have been given the beautiful opportunity to see them grow into both incredible performers, and wonderful people.
Phil Collins said it best.
“In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn”
Truer words could not have been said, or sung for that matter. In the short time that I have been teaching, my kids have taught me more than any class, any person, and any experience I’ve ever had. They have taught me more than I could ever teach them. And it is for this reason, and for this gratitude in my heart that I am writing this now.
1. Know Your Audience
I remember I used to struggle with teaching. Flamenco especially. I learned through analyzing sound and memorizing music instead of through counting, so I expected my students to learn the same way. Learning how to teach was a challenge for me. I had to breakdown every concept and every theory, and I had to relearn everything in a different way – a way that whoever I was teaching could understand. With these kids, it was that times 24. I worked hard to look for different ways to explain things that were taught to me a certain way my entire life. And it was challenging but fulfilling to see them improve and grow because of it.
2. Fight Fire with Water
Just like with any job and with any environment, there will always be people who will question and doubt your work. Some will even go as far as to spread negativity and anger where there is light and happiness. As a teacher, I found that the one thing that I always have to remember is that there is goodness in everyone, and that it is my job to find it and nurture it. In normal circumstances, I’d fight fire with fire. (Gryffindor, lol) But teaching gave me a different perspective. Fight anger with love, and meanness with kindness.
3. Be the Person They Think You Are
Sometimes it’s terrifying, being a teacher. You are often looked to for advice and support, and sometimes if you spend time with a student long enough, they even begin to pick up your mannerisms and habits. It’s scary and difficult, but also pretty amazing because it makes you want to live the advice you give, and it makes you want to be worthy of the trust and love they have for you. It forces you into becoming the very best version of yourself you can be. Nothing in my life has made me want to be a good person as much as these kids.
4. Make Lemonade
I have always been the type of person who would go out and learn a new skill if there was a need for it. I like learning new things, and the control freak in me has always counted on being able to do everything myself. But this class has pushed me farther than I’ve ever gone. I learned photography, costume making (for people other than myself), video editing, makeup and hairstyling, script writing – so many things that I never would have learned or picked up otherwise. But more than anything, I learned how to adjust – to restrictions, to circumstance, and to people. I have learned to make the best of almost impossible situations, and to be persistent but patient, strict but kind. It’s a never-ending process, learning. And I am glad I’ve got good, kind-hearted kids to teach me that.
5. Plans change
If you’ve known me for a while, or if you’ve been reading my stuff, you would know that I’m a “project” kind of girl. I like giving 110% on projects, then moving on as soon as I am done with them. Because of my many interests, I get into so many things, so many jobs, and I’ve never kept a 9 to 5 in my entire life. You can blame the INFJ, the Gryffindor, or the artist in me, but I’ve always been allergic to routine and structure. And if you haven’t seen me in a while you’re probably wondering why I’m teaching at all. School was never for me. And music? I was done with that. I’d made that so clear. So I never anticipated falling in love with this job and with these kids because like most things in my life, it was only meant to be temporary. But plans change. Life makes you change them. Now I find myself wanting to learn more so I can teach more, and that I think is the biggest curveball my life has thrown at me so far.
“No one should teach who is not in love with teaching” – Margaret E. Sangster
I’m not a perfect teacher by any means, just as I am not a perfect person. But I love these kids sincerely and deeply, and I want nothing more than to see them succeed in life, whatever they choose to do.
The path ahead is still unclear, but the path behind me is so full of meaning, full of music, and full of love. Wherever the road takes me now, I will be armed with all these wonderful lessons and memories for the rest of my life. I only hope I have given them as much as they have given me.
Thank you for everything kids – for giving me purpose, for teaching me true happiness, and for your trust and love. Thank you for making my life so incredibly beautiful. I’m here for you no matter what.