There are exactly ten days left until the start of school. My fellow teachers and I are busy bees, frantically working to prepare our classrooms. Searching for just the right bulletin board border, inspiring posters, room arrangement, etc. Even though the decorations are not the most important aspect of this process, I do want my room to be warm and inviting. A place students look forward to visiting which encourages them to be creative. Since I spend most of my days in this space, the atmosphere is also important for my personal well-being.
This year begins my tenth year as a public school teacher, first a special education teacher and currently an elementary music teacher. The ten-year mark has me thinking more closely about my focus as a teacher. Why am I doing this? What would I like to accomplish? How long will I stay in this position? Maybe my questions have something to do with turning fifty this past year…who knows?
I have chosen the word connections to guide my attitude for the coming school year. After all, the success of the year is dependent on positive relationships with both colleagues and students. Fellow teachers, no matter their age or level of experience, have something to offer. A fresh idea, a long-tested method, contagious energy-discovered only when we take the time to get to know each other, listening and investing time-connecting.
And what about my students? Why are connections so crucial? Because music is personal. Styles are endless, and we all have our likes and dislikes, especially kids. Unless I take the time to get to know my students and let them get to know me, how can I expect them to explore and create? Yes, they may learn basic music skills, building blocks, history. However, unless they make a personal connection and recognize that music is all around them, I haven’t done my job.
This is not an easy task. As the music teacher, I see between 400-500 students. That’s a lot of names! And I struggle with remembering names in general. So that’s where we begin-movement and rhythm games, not only sharing our names and our favorite (fill in the blank) but hearing them repeated back to us. Simple I know-but surprisingly empowering. When students realize another person likes the same color, animal, food, song-a connection is made. A first step…
Those first days back are exhausting! It’s easy to become overwhelmed (and a tiny bit irritable) with the newness. Adjusting all over again to the daily schedule and expectations. This year I want to push past all that and see the people in front of me, colleagues and students. I hope connections are made that very first week. Connections which will become building blocks, and grow into an amazing, music-filled school year!
Ready or not!