I recently shared a story on my Facebook page about a rather innocent, fun experience I had at school. I played the nicest, friendliest game of Dirty Santa with some awesome high school music students. This game was unlike any other game of Dirty Santa that I have ever played. Our rules were simple: 1. Bring a wrapped or bagged gift (real or gag) 2. Everyone who brings a gift will draw a number to determine the order you choose or steal a gift 3. When it is your turn, pick a gift from the gift table or steal a gift from someone who already has one. 4.Whatever gift you have after everyone has taken a turn is the gift you keep. Of course, I played, too. Why let the kids have all the fun? I got more out of it than I thought.
My expectation was crazy, wacky gifts, people stealing gifts, and the usual shenanigans that happen when you play a game of Dirty Santa with people that you know very well. That is not at all what happened. Only one person stole a gift (it was Starbucks Hot Chocolate - totally worth stealing!) and not a single person brought a gag gift. These kids gave each other DVDs, flannel throws, stuffed penguins, and fancy journals. It was just awesome kids giving each other awesome gifts because they wanted everyone to have something nice.
The whole experience hit me right in the feels. Why? Because it is December. December for a music teacher is a rough, ruthless, unforgiving time of year filled with concerts, rehearsals, exams, end-of-semester duties, and personal/professional musical engagements. I have used the phrase "I can't...I have rehearsal" many times so far this month alone. Music teachers need a little more love during the winter months, and the past week had been especially rough for me. It was performance day. I had to fix a microphone that had not worked during sound check the day before, move items into the auditorium, copy handouts for my chorus class, but not my piano class because sometimes the copy machine hates me. After all of that running around, feet hurting, out of breath, mad at machines, 20 million things on my mind (did I mention it was concert day?!), I then have an administrator walk in on the madness to formally observe me. As I watched my principal walk in, I kept thinking to myself *Please be here to drop off something...please don't sit down...please don't evaluate me as a teacher based upon concert day madness.* Well, he sat down and watched roughly 80 minutes of me forgetting where I left my pencil and trying not to think about the 20 million things I still had left to do before my chorus hit the stage that night. This on top of text messages and emails that said "I can't run lights and sound for you tonight because my mom won't let me,' and 'I forgot my black shoes. Can I wear these red ones?' and 'I don't have a ride home so I can't perform tonight.' It is the kind of week that makes a music teacher think about going to Burger King. No, not to eat - to fill out a job application and leave the zoo to the zoo keepers.
Then, Dirty Santa happened. And all these kids wanted to do was be nice and make people feel good about themselves. In that moment, I was reminded of WHY statements. Back in my former life in business, I was always told to write a WHY statement addressing WHY I do what I do, WHY I want to do it, and WHY nothing can make me not do it. I never wrote a WHY statement as a teacher. Now WHY is that?! On that day in that time, I was reminded of WHY I teach music. I don't do it because it's easy because OMGOODNESS it is not easy. I don't teach music because of administrators or sound checks or copy machines. I teach music because of students. I teach music because many years ago there was a music teacher who believed in me. I teach music because music makes a difference in the lives of us all. When I look at my WHY, I forget about the fast food applications and get back to work teaching. The teaching profession is not for the weak of heart, stomach, or mind. For all of my fellow music teacher friends, stay strong and encouraged and let us not ever forget WHY we do what we do. When we feel ourselves drowning in paperwork, administrative duties, parents, students, lesson plans, rehearsals, politics, and grades, let us remind ourselves WHY we do what we do. And never, EVER forget WHY. The moment we lose our WHY is the moment we leave it all behind, and our students need us to know and believe in our WHY.
Why do you teach? If you don't teach, is there a teacher you can thank and encourage during this winter season? Share your thoughts with me here or on Facebook. I would love to read it! In sharing WHY we teach, we can not only encourage others, but also ourselves.
I am a music educator and lover of all food stuffs! Thank you for spending some of your day with me here on my blog. Read more...