At the beginning of this school year, Lisa McCluer, a dear friend of mine who is also the president of the Kansas City Music Teachers Association, wrote a wonderful article for her association newsletter. This has served as such an important reminder to me in my teaching this year that I asked her if I could share it here. She graciously agreed. I hope that inspires you as it has me!
“Many of us have been busy planning out the year’s activities and incentives. One of the wonderful things about belonging to this organization is that we have access to so many inspiring ideas and so much useful information. As music teachers and professionals, we are always working hard to make sure we are covering everything for our students and improving on how and what we teach, but this can be overwhelming. As I thought about planning for my students, a verse came to mind: “If I speak in the tongues of men and angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”
While it is important to continue to come up with new ideas, and improve on how we do things, we can get so focused on “performing” or “succeeding” that we can forget about what is most important: being in touch with our students – caring about them and their lives, developing their specific gifts and talents…this is the foundation of a good teacher/student relationship on which learning can be built. They are more than just “students” – they are each unique and individual, each to be cherished and valued. If we approach teaching in this way, then we can afford to be imperfect – it will turn out okay anyway. Of course, we do our absolute best, but sometimes it is a process to figure out what works and what doesn’t.
As I have gotten to know many of you, I am struck by how dedicated and professional you are, and how hard you work. It is easy to allow your work to consume your life, especially if you work at home. I urge each of you to evaluate your priorities – be sure to take time to take care of yourselves, spend time with loved ones, and to connect spiritually. If our lives are in balance, we can truly be the best teachers we can be! Happy Teaching!”