by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
The more I thought I knew about teaching music to elementary students, the less I felt I knew. After every summer, I'd have a panic attack. I felt I had completely lost all ability to teach anything. I felt like a total novice. I drew a complete mental blank about where to start preparing for students.
I pushed myself to start things rolling with the most basic ideas to welcome students. I started with the intention to spark a love of music in them. I decided on the clear, simple goal to create a climate where they felt comfortable to be themselves.
I crammed to find the time for lesson plans based on the required music standards. I morphed my resources of activities into actual structured lessons for the classroom.
My job required me to focus on implementing national teaching standards. This aimed my lesson planning on engaging students to function and progress through each learning goal. My lessons were also geared to help students develop skills to use and comprehend specific music vocabulary.
I discovered that the true teaching moments arose from something unexpected and unplanned. I had a few of those moments in various classes. When it happened, it was such a delight. What was that?
It was the transformation of the music classroom. The atmosphere changed with inclusive connections between student to student, teacher to student and the lesson content.
When the students laughed, their eyes lit up, and their brains became ultra-alert and attentive, I felt like a superhero character. I shed my identity as a panic-stricken wanna-be to emerge as a wise educator. I awakened.
My students taught me what is essential in the classroom. Those magical moments when students felt my energetic passion for both the subject matter (music), and my sincere care for their educational progress.
When it happened it was a period of sheer enjoyment, trust and camaraderie. Both teacher and students arrived together at the pinnacle of the most treasured part of our daily lives in the classroom; learning.
And I unwittingly discovered my own forte (heh heh) as a music teacher in that process. My sense of humor and dedication to the almighty subject of music, when combined with my sincere prayer for my students to enjoy themselves, became a collective, awe-inspiring energy. It was a force that propelled my students with me toward the greatest aspiration of education; Happiness.
I am transfixed by the simplicity of this lesson; that learning should be fun. That’s what being a kid is all about.
In a reality that is deeper than what is visible to the eye, the true lesson is that my students taught me.
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