Today school begins again. I woke easily this morning, anticipating the return to the smiles and eagerness of my students. It is always a time of joy and anxiousness to me. I have yet to fully come into the realization that I am thought of as a “master teacher” by some. It is too easy for me to see the ways I fail to live up to my own ideals.
But I am learning. Each experience in life is teaching me to be more gentle on myself, to be content with what I know at the same time I feel this drive to be more. I want to hear my students that much more clearly, to teach them so that they learn with the same joy I have when I look into their faces. I want music and an awareness of other cultures in the world, the things I teach, to be things that stir their blood and touch their hearts. I want them to look at each other and see potential comrades in this act of creating instead of adversaries in a battle for succeeding.
It all depends on the way I teach and the way I choose to handle grading in my class. Grading is, for me, my teacher’s nightmare. How do you put a label on a child’s effort? Some come to the class with prior knowledge from lessons or family experience. Others come having never even been sung to as a child. They come to me in a class that does not know what this experience will be. They come with all of who they are but for most there is also the hesitancy of that first day in a new place. It is up to me, for some the music experience that will mark their love of music or hatred of music for much of their life. I will be their teacher for up to seven years. It will matter what I choose to do or not do in relationship to them.
I am lucky, in a way. My division, my province, has tied the way we grade to basic curriculum goals, but is also working toward something called UDL that allows us to teach to the diversity of students in our room and recognize a diversity of responses in showing what the students can be. It pushes me to open even more doors and windows in myself so that I can look at my students and see them from a variety of perspectives, some outside my own box. It allows creative response, alters avenues of delivery, and forces me to let go of the power in my class on a daily basis so that the students become musical co-creators and makers with me. I am empowered by the richness they bring when I give this room. I am humbled by the amazing product that is their performances. I am awed by students who open like flowers that needed that room to create as much as peonies need ants in order for their blooms to show.
I think I made a mistake in looking to the past for the day to remember. This is my day to remember, and each day that I step into the life I am now living. This is my path forward in writing – my now.