Oh, grow up.
I was on my cell phone a few weeks ago with one of my best ‘director’ friends and during our visit he remarked to me, while laughing, “Are you ever going to grow up?”
Gosh . . . I hope not!
I am 64 years old and I suppose that technically . . . I am a grown up. But, I have never really wanted to act like a grown up . . . especially while I am teaching my choirboys!
Last year, my birthday was the day of our Spring Concert and one of our youngest Music Magic choirboys, age 6 asked me how old I was and I told him “64”. He was quiet for a moment and then said, “Did you start at 1 ?”
Growing up has always sounded so awful to me, and that way of thinking has gotten me into some trouble occasionally. Words like, “wait until you get into the ‘real world’ “ or “back to ‘reality’ “ always sounded like it was so horrible to being a grown up. I have never been interested in that!
I’ve taught our choirboys for 36 years now and they’ve told me many things that have been yelled at them, by some of their teachers who should probably not be teaching this age group.
“Why do you ask stupid questions like that?”
“What is wrong with you?”
“Shut your mouth!”
“Was I talking to you?”
“Why can’t you act like a normal boy?”
I’ve wondered what makes anyone think that saying things like that to a boy who is 8 – 14 years old is a good approach? Does anyone really think that is going to make them want to work hard for us?
Should we hold our students accountable? Absolutely.
Should we have moments of seriousness with them when we are making significant and important points about responsibility? Yes!
The best work we as teachers can do is on ourselves . . . and then offer that to our students. They MUST know that we care about them.
I laugh with my boys before, during and after our rehearsals. And I have learned not to be afraid of silly humor – boys love it!
When I get too serious for too long with them, they just ‘shut down’ and they don’t want to sing better or even at all.
I keep reminding myself what I was like when I was their age [a scary thought, right?!] I liked to move. I liked to be silly. I was awkward at times and couldn’t understand what was happening to my body and certainly my voice!
So, I continue to act silly and laugh as often as I can with my boys . . . it keeps me excited about teaching them and keeps us all learning.
Have I grown up physically? Certainly!
But, I want to stay in touch with what it was like to be a boy for the rest of my life and I think that any person who chooses to be a teacher must stay in touch with that feeling and not allow themselves to ever become so ‘grown up’ that they do things and say things that squelch the little spirits who are longing to find the ways to work toward their own dreams and manhood.
When we are kind to our students . . . when we laugh with them . . . when they know we care about them, they know it. And when we grow up and don’t want to get into the pool anymore because we are worried about how we look or whatever . . . I think we have to keep getting wet!