The more I think I know about teaching music to elementary students, the less I feel I really know. Every year, after summer break, I go through a panic attack feeling that I have completely lost all ability to teach anything. I feel like a total novice, drawing a complete mental blank about where to start preparing for students.
I push myself to start things rolling with the most basic ideas to simply welcome students with the intention of sparking a love of music in them. I start with my easiest possible goal; to create a climate where they feel comfortable to be themselves.
As I cram to find the time for lesson plans based on the required music standards, I begin to morph my resources of activities into actual structured lessons for the classroom. Though I am required to focus on implementing these standards so students are engaged, functioning and progressing through each learning goal while developing the necessary skills to use and comprehend specific music vocabulary, what I am discovering is that the true teaching moments come from something entirely unexpected or planned. I had a few of those moments today and yesterday in various classes. When it happens, it is such a delight.
What is that? It’s when the music classroom is transformed by the inclusive connection between student to student, teacher to student and content of the lesson. When the students are able to laugh, their eyes light up and their brains suddenly become ultra-alert and attentive, I feel like I suddenly have shed my identity as a panic-stricken wanna-be to emerge as a wise educator. Or more accurately, I awaken, having been taught by my students what is really important in the classroom. It’s about those moments when they feel, in the atmosphere, my energetic passion for both the subject matter of music, and my sincere care for their progress as students.
When it happens, it is a period of sheer enjoyment, trust and camaraderie, in which both teacher and students arrive together at the pinnacle of the most treasured part of our daily lives in the school setting; learning. And I have unwittingly discovered my own forte (heh heh) as a music teacher in that process. It is that my sense of humor and dedication to the almighty subject of music, when combined with my sincere prayer for my students to enjoy themselves, become a collective, awe-inspiring energy–a force–that propells 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. Perhaps in a reality that is deeper than what is visible to the eye, the true lesson is that my students are teaching me.