As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Good Teachers

I have been blessed to have the best of both worlds when it comes to schooling my kids.  I homeschool them, of course, but I also have been able to take advantage of programs at several schools, public and private, that have really taken their education and enrichment to the next level. I often think that for a homeschooling family, we spend a ridiculous amount of time in schools! You might think that because I homeschool I eschew the public school system all together, but nothing could be further from the truth.

The activities my kids take part in all have exceptional teachers, and it helps me to be a better teacher for them.  Our piano teacher, for example, is quite possibly the most patient woman I have ever met.  I listen to my children bang the keys while my blood boils and it takes everything inside of me not interrupt the lesson with a glaring look that communicates (in the way only an irate mother can) that the child had better smarten up and pay attention now.  But I hold myself back, and I hear her in her chipper voice simply say, "okay, whenever you're ready!" And almost on cue the child, without any hint of negativity, does what she is waiting for them to do.  She is happy, they are happy, and more importantly, they did what the teacher wanted without a fight - something I find nearly impossible to accomplish on my own.

Their violin teachers, too, have an incredible gift for patience.  I sat at the back of the class this week with the other parents while 40 beginning violin students chattered and squeaked their violins, and I saw the calm patience on the faces of both the teachers.  I would find it impossible in such situations to remain composed, but not them.  They never lost their calm disposition, raising their voices slightly (but cheerfully) to ask the children to please pay attention.  And when a few children were still distracted and noisy there was no firm discipline, the piano simply started to play - by which the children all understood they needed to stop talking and play.  And they did.  At their final concert I marveled to watch all the teachers beaming with pride and delighting in the accomplishment of these students, who they clearly love and have invested themselves in all this year.

Their band teacher is the same.  We knew that even before they started from my nephew and cousins, all students of the school who raved about how awesome this teacher is.  Middle school students have a way of telling you like it is, especially as it comes to teachers, so you know that when they all vouch for one in particular, she must be something really special.  She is so good at fostering community, and helping kids get out of their shells and make friends with each other.  And she gives them responsibility, encouraging them to be leaders by splitting them up into groups and having them teach each other.  And under her direction my children have thrived not only musically but socially as well, and it has been a joy to hear them come home from band events full of happiness of the good times they've have and the new friends they've made.

I have many friends who are teachers too, and their advice has gotten me through many tough times in homeschooling.  When I am losing patience I hear the calm voice of our piano teacher saying, "whenever you're ready," and it inspires me to be more calm.  When I am finding teaching so difficult I remember the joy on the faces of their violin teachers, and I try to loosen up just a bit and remember that teaching (and learning) can be fun.  When I feel overwhelmed at the task of teaching so many children, I remember how the band teacher makes learning fun not just by reciting a lesson, but by empowering them to be leaders, and I know that I can do the same.  My teaching has been greatly uplifted by the example of these and many other gifted educators, because when I see their example of patience and love in education, it sets the bar.  It helps me to see what is possible, and what I desire most for my children.  Not simply that they can add or subtract, spell or recite.  But that through their education they become more themselves, because it opens a whole realm of possibility.  A way to experience the world passionately engaged with everything around them.

I love teachers, and I am grateful to have so many in our lives. I know that there are so many more working every day in the school systems, and for that the lives of all of our children are truly blessed.  Thank you teachers, for all that you do.  Your work does not go unnoticed.

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