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Student Teaching Revelations and Aspirations

"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it."

"The Secret: You have absolutely no power over anyone. The key is not to let them know that."

"If you’re not having fun, fake it."

"A good leader is a good actor."

I came across these George N. Parks 'starred thoughts' today in a Google search. They certainly touched on some of the more important teacher lessons that I have been learning over the past few months as a student teacher, but there was one quote in particular that pinpointed just what I have been thinking about more recently.

"You get back what you give out."

One of my fellow teacher friends told me last week about a significant breakthrough she has been having with her own teaching. She said, "I discovered that my energy while I'm teaching is highly based upon the energy that the students are giving me - it's terrible!" She noticed that whenever the students are excited, she is excited, and that whenever the students are negative, she struggles to stay positive; the whole class then is affected as a result.

It was when she told me all this that I realized, Wow - I think that is the same problem I am having. Sometimes, I think it takes us hearing another person talk about their own challenges for us to actually recognize and process our own. This was certainly what happened for me.

I have been thinking a lot for a few weeks now about the kind of energy that I am conveying to my students. Right now, I am teaching second and third grade general music at my elementary placement, and - newsflash! - you really do get back what you give out. Kids definitely follow the energy of the teacher, especially when things go south during a lesson.

Today, I was finally able to muster up the ability to fake some enthusiasm with my students amidst all the chaos that was seemingly ensuing in the classroom. On the inside, I was consumed by frustration, but I knew that dwelling in that frustration would rob both me and my students of what could still be a positive musical experience. So, I took some deep breaths, kept on moving forward with the lesson content, and tried my absolute best to show the students that I was personally excited about the material. Resultantly, I had more students engaged and excited during the activities that we DID attempt. Also, those students who were engaged in the lesson were actually ENJOYING it, and guess what? I was, too. What started as feigned excitement in the middle of the lesson, turned into a genuine eagerness to make music with my students.

"A good leader is a good actor." Similarly, a good teacher is a good actor. Much of good teaching is just acting - pretending to be excited about the lesson content and activities when you are everything but excited, when the students are all over the place, when things are seemingly falling apart, when nothing is going according to plan.

And I think students really do need music teachers like that - music teachers who consistently make an effort to instill in their students a love for music, who continue to show their immense passion for music-making despite the various obstacles that may arise. My biggest aspiration as an educator is to do this for my students, but even in a broader sense. My hope is to be a source of light, radiance, and positivity for my students, even amidst trying circumstances in my path. I know that this will not often be a simple task, but it will certainly be a worthy one.

"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it."

"You get back what you give out."

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