Students and Teachers on Facebook Part III

Facebook Conversation. If you haven’t read the first two posts, start here…..

Part I
Part II

Continuing….

….our discussion on whether students and teachers should be “friending” on Facebook. As the discussion continues, I’ve presented the comments you have shared — but now I want to continue with MY APPROACH and my reasons……

Mentoring

Amid all the cautions, teachers are encouraged to build relationships. Why? Because it has been proven that students will better respond to teachers they admire, respect and trust. You can put a degree behind your name, make them call you ‘mister’ and expect a level of civility due the position, but respect and trust are not automatic; they must be earned…

In the six years that I have been at HNHS, one of the kindest notes received from a parent was following a statement I made (at a concert, I think) that I “love, admire and respect your children”. The parent who wrote indicated that other parents recognized that as an outside of normal but welcomed statement. And you know what? I think the students know….and understand….and appreciate.

For me, this discussion is not about facebook so much as it is in mentoring through individual, personal relationships built on mutual respect and trust.

I endure periodic criticism for some of my student interactions because sometimes I do and say things that are not standard teacheresque….but I believe I’m right and here is some “evidence” that I am so glad I got to collect.

A few years ago, I met with a couple dozen students from my first teaching position. I was kinda sorta tricked into thinking I was returning only to see the dedication of the new “Performing Arts Center”, but was then taken to a room where an organized group of former students asked me to “Come back and teach the children of the children you taught.” When I asked “why” I was somewhat surprised at the responses.

NOTE: the quotes that follow are approximate and on memory — I was not taking notes….so apologies for anything not completely correct…..but I think I’ve captured the intent….. This teaching stint was pre-facebook and pre-cell phone.

Not a single person addressed the state ranking or the trophies. No one mentioned learning scales, rehearsal/practice techniques or even how proficient they became on their instruments.

A current businessman shared two memories when he shared, “You told me to write some percussion parts when I had never done that before and you were right….I COULD do it. I remember that the most, oh, and your smile.

A doctor said, “Much of what I needed to get through med school I got from you….because it was about more than just the music. You held me to a higher standard than some. I now know why you pushed me the way you did and I came back to say ‘thank you’…..”

The county surveyer listed three things: “You expected us to play every note and you would listen to us play and move us up or down within the section. You had instrument inspections to make sure it wasn’t the horn’s fault. And you wrote every senior a personal letter. I still have mine.”

A bi-vocational pastor said that he remembered being able to walk down the halls of the school with his head held high because he was in the band. And he credited me for helping turn his life around when I kicked him out of band second semester of his senior year. “I would rather have been put in jail than kicked out of band. That cut me to the core, G, but not only do I no longer drink, but now I’ve devoted my life to helping other teens the way you helped me.” 

—————–

So yeah, teaching to me is personal, it is about more than just the music and I am willing to take the “risk” of trying to get closer to my students so that I can share with them my expertise, my empathy, my experiences and my encouragement. Hopefully, some will become proficient enough to continue with music as a vocation. For all, however, I want them to have a life-lasting appreciation of music….yes, but also of the concept of working toward excellence and of the fond memories of the band experience.

And in my next post, I’ll tell you HOW and WHY I use facebook and other communication tools the way I do.

Thanks for reading.

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