Week four is in the books! I’d like to say how this school year is flying by, but it feels like all of four weeks. I’m consoled by the fact that I feel a smidge less exhausted than I did the first two weeks. All of my worst tendencies still flare up, like how I want to get more done than I’m actually doing, and having a million ideas and few legit ways to realize them.
I did once read part of Jon Acuff’s book about soundtracks—he is very much a self-help guru that begins to get on one’s nerves—but it is true: we all have these ear-wormy thoughts that parade through our brain, and many of them are unproductive. Like, you have no business being here and what made you think you could handle this in the first place?
Both questions have seemed to prove true and valid in most of my life pursuits…But they are just soundtracks that need to be deleted off the playlist. It’s no secret from me—I know my strengths aren’t in the organizational department nor the conventional work background, but that doesn’t mean I need to constantly beat myself up about it.
For four weeks and a poor selection of instruments along with some wily kids, I think getting 130 of them to know how to tune and strum a C chord on the ukulele isn’t bad. The other 210 kids are singing and sometimes cooperating with my mishmash of old xylophones and drums. Kindergarten is almost eating me alive, but I’m trying to pretend that’s just another soundtrack I should probably tune out. I’m going to take what I can get in the way of productivity (verrry subjective, as kindergartners prove daily) and then read a book for the rest of class.
Right now 3rd graders are listening to me read the Mary Pope Osborne version of the Odyssey because I’m convinced they cannot handle music class past 2:55 in the afternoon. It’s my gentle way of not getting mad at them for their disruptive behavior.
I’ve got this theory that the Covid kindergartners of ‘19-‘20 and upper elementary have been royally gypped and have not fully recovered. The expectations were lowered and never raised. The kids who followed that “generation” are obvious screen babies, so I’m dealing with the repercussions of that. Did I mention that the first thing the younger classes did when they walked into my classes and heard music playing?
I can’t see it!—that’s what they all said. They’d never heard kids’ music being played just the audio—at home or in the car it is always accompanied by the screen.
Another mind-boggling fact is that some of my preschoolers were tiny little infants when Covid hit. I just have to keep all these things in mind when I’m setting goals. One inch at a time. The kids know I really care about them, they know how I feel about them growing up to be the absolute best version of themselves…it’s really hardly about music at all. Music is just my flavor of teaching for now.
…the vast majority of educators I met…were not bad so much as they were discouraged and overwhelmed. The rising numbers of low-income and immigrant children, the underwhelming involvement of parents, and the impact of a culture that sneers at knowledge instead of treasuring it all make the classroom a very tough place to work. Beyond that, the sheer logistics of teaching, counseling, comforting, coaching, and inspiring 150 students each and every day are beyond the capability of most normal human beings. Yet public school teachers are expected to perform these tasks calmly and brilliantly while simultaneously documenting and evaluating every move they and their students make.
(I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had. Tony Danza, 2013.)