There are many days when things don’t go right when you are teaching. The technology doesn’t work, you get blasted by a parent or you just can’t seem to make a breakthrough with a student who is struggling to read. I figure there will be a multitude of these days throughout the twenty some odd years I have left in the classroom. However, once in a while there is one perfect moment where it reminds you of the reason you love teaching more than anything else in the world. I think that it is important to stop and let the feeling that you made the right decision in this instance wash over you, as it is sometimes hard not to let the negative events overshadow the great things that happen.
I had a former student unexpectedly come and visit me last week. She was a student that I will never forget. She arrived at our school from a war-torn country where she had lost a limb due to a land mine explosion. She barely spoke English and she really struggled to find her place at our school. Even with all of these hurdles, she gave it her all in music class. I assigned her the bass part in our Orff ensemble piece, as she had a rock steady internal beat which is very difficult for students at that age. She did amazingly well. Every single music class, we chatted as well as we could with her limited English, and she kept the beat for all of our pieces with her one hand. At the end of every music class, she looked proud of herself and she left with a smile. At the very end of the year, she came to me and handed me a small box with a necklace inside and simply said, “Thank you”. It is probably the thank you that I will never forget for my entire teaching career. Fast forward to last week when she came to visit me and she walked up and said hello. She then continued to tell me all about her new school in fluent English, how she liked her new teachers and how everything was generally going well. Her time at our school was not like some after school special. She had many difficulties right until the very last day, but I am confident that my music class was a happy place for her to come to.
Sometimes, as teachers, we are really hard on ourselves and we forget to take a moment to celebrate the small victories in our day. I challenge you to sit down and think about five things that went well this year, either big or small.