Monday, December 10, 2018
Being a teacher, even with all of our students and parents, can actually be a fairly lonely calling. Many teachers don't see another adult during the day; a few are lucky enough to be a part of a team of directors, but even those often teach their lessons individually. It is very easy to experience a feeling of isolation in our world. So what is an educator to do? Like any strong relationship, effort has to be made to break the perception that you don't have support while traveling your teaching path.
Get involved in your professional organizations. Groups like Missouri Bandmasters and Missouri Music Educators Association exist to be a resource for educators, both young and veteran. Do you contact the leadership of those organizations and ask what mentoring opportunities are available? Do you offer to serve during district or state band auditions in some capacity? Your district MMEA may have summer meetings as well as meetings during our state conference. Do you attend our state conference? MBA offers a summer conference as well. Besides offering outstanding clinics and performances to attend, these are networking opportunities of tremendous value -- a chance to "talk shop" by bouncing ideas off of trusted individuals and getting a perspective on how to approach teaching in a different way.
Side note...Getting involved also can give you a chance to see how the each of these organizations work. Have you wondered why a certain process is in place or how decisions are reached? The answer is to show up and get involved. It has been said that "decisions are made by those that show up". So show up! Get involved. I would also encourage you to take a big-picture look at your membership in professional organizations. I have heard before people questioning the value of joining MBA or Nafme. "What am I getting out of it?" A huge answer is advocacy! We all advocate for our students at our own school and community, but when was the last time you contacted your state or federal representatives in support of music education? The leadership of these professional organizations do exactly that and your membership fees allow that to happen. So when looking at that renewal form remember that people are working behind the scenes fighting for each of our students to have access to quality music education.
Finally, one of the best things you can do to avoid that feeling of being alone is to reach out to a trusted educator. This can be a teacher with several years under their belt, or even a fellow teacher just beginning their career. Share a sweet tea or a dinner and just chat. When I began my career in Mountain Grove, I was so blessed to have John East at Willow Springs near by. We got together at least every couple of weeks and I would vent about my problems and share my successes. He was always there to give me solutions or to keep me grounded. I am still fortunate to enjoy some great conversations with seasoned directors as well as some just starting out. And I learn from them all. If you haven't talked band with someone in a few weeks, get on the phone and set something up!
I often tell my students that besides having structured and planned out rehearsal time, I also want them to simply play. Play your instrument. The same advice applies to us as teachers. Plan your lessons and do that desk work, but also just have conversations about band. Talk band. Whether you have taught one year or have taught 30, we all have something to offer and something to learn from others who are going through the same thing. You are not alone, so reach out, get involved and talk band!
|Craig Finger has been the Director of Bands for Nixa Public Schools in Missouri for 22 years and taught at Mountain Grove Missouri for three years prior. He served as the band vice-president for the South Central Missouri Music Educators for six years and is currently the Band Vice President for the state Missouri Music Educators Association. He has made a career of not really knowing much, asking a lot of questions and stealing the ideas of others. Seriously, it really works.|
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