As of this writing on October 23, 2009, I’ve been teaching music for 16 years and 2 months. I absolutely love my job on most days, am content on others, and hate it a few days a year. After my first three years of teaching from 1988 to 1991, I made the decision to stay home with my children. My first of two daughters was born in July of 1991. I stayed home or worked part-time for the next six years until my youngest was about 3 years old. During those first couple of years back in the classroom, I felt like a first year teacher all over again. When the laws were put into effect that required teachers to log professional development hours, I began taking classes at VanderCook College of Music (summer of 2000). During the ensuing years, especially from 2004 to 2006 when I worked on my Master’s degree at VCM, I began to do some serious soul searching. What are my strengths and weaknesses? How should I prioritize my time? As a music teacher, how much time and effort can I/”should” I spend participating in developing or maintaining skills on my instrument? How does all of that fit in with my family life? I’m still working out the answers to those questions, but one thing has remained…
My strength is I am very reflective (sometimes to my own emotional detriment!). I tend to analyze EVERYTHING. And I realize “the answer” or solution to any given question related to my teaching is an ongoing, never-ending process of discovery and improvement. I was at a faculty meeting yesterday after school where several classroom teachers commented in ways proving they are also very reflective. The great teachers are!
I’m not the best music teacher within even a 5 mile radius. I’m not even the best teacher in my building in the little western suburb of Chicago where I currently teach! I have great days of teaching, great lessons where everything clicks and the students are engaged and having fun. However, I also have lessons that only feel ho-hum, and a few that feel like a disaster waiting to happen, causing me to change plans in mid-stream!
I’ve decided to focus my blogging efforts on my thought processes as a music teacher. What goes well…and if I can gather the courage…what doesn’t. Admitting to professional weaknesses is scary! Will it put my job at risk? Will others lose respect for what I do? I hope not. Once again, I know my strength isn’t in being among the greatest teachers. However, I do know how to reflect, set goals to improve, and implement steps that make those goals a reality…over time.
Maybe I’ll learn to make improvements more efficiently through this process. If anyone chooses to read and comment, I welcome your ideas!