#19 You need to love a student before you can teach a student.

A recent Facebook follower opined that #19 on a list of the 20 Things Students Want Us To Know About Education “should be #1 on the list”.

Here is the entire list and article from which that comes

#19 “You need to love a student before you can teach a student.”

Keep in mind that is from a panel of students.

I have told the band in ensemble that I “love, admire and respect” them and have shared that with their parents. Students and parents get it ….but what about administrators?

I got opposite administrator feedback. One of my public school bosses, in an official evaluation follow-up discussion “encouraged” me to drop the love talk and focus on “admiration and respect”. Another administrator, a teen parent from a private school is the one who suggests that #19 should be #1 on the list. But how do you do that?

Those horrible news headlines about inappropriate and illegal teacher/student behavior cause everyone to freak, to overact and under commit. Teachers are supposed to “build relationships”, but…

…don’t touch (especially hugs…. High 5’s maybe? Smiles are still ok.)
…don’t cell call (Cell phones are evil. Maybe a land line?)
…don’t text (Email students only if copying to parents, so if no parent email, too bad?)
…don’t Facebook (or Twitter, Pinterest, MySpace, Google+ or anything else social media)
…don’t friend, become friended, follow, IM or have any social media contact
…don’t have private conversations
…don’t counsel (without professional training, even though student came to YOU)
…don’t transport (stranded at school, raining….nah…just be heartless and don’t do it)
…don’t open your home
…don’t be or allow them to call you their friend 

What’s left? If teachers are only non-personal knowledge dumpers, then taxpayers could save an incredible amount of money by instituting video or online-only education and save millions and billions by removing the personal aspect of a physically present, involved teacher.

And for fear of all the aforementioned “don’ts”, teachers detach and students react. I can’t tell you how many variations I’ve heard of “my teachers don’t care”. They probably do care – just afraid to show it.

Teaching is about more than “just” the academics and artistic value of music. Students are more than information sponges. They are more than a means to a paycheck. Yes, I want to help students realize a love and appreciation for the art of music that they can utilize as a performer or audience member for the rest of their lives. But I also want to earn their admiration and respect so that they will trust that I am more than just a knowledge provider. I want them to see me as a mentor who cares as well as a proficient musician and life coach. I want to provide a safe environment that maintains the level of control necessary in a music ensemble while also encouraging emotional and artistic expression and contribution. I want them to learn from what I show them, from each other, from competitive experiences as well as from their mistakes along the way. I want them to desire and strive for excellence in music and in everything they do. I want them to appreciate their community and to want to give back to those whose support they need in entertaining performances and projects.

And I will continue to LOVE, admire and respect.

Thanks for reading,
John Gardner

Coming soon: VirtualMusicOffice.com — stay tuned.

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