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Ruth Kuefler

This Is Why I Teach

July 18, 2007 at 4:31 PM

The other day one of my student's parents gave me some photos she'd been carrying around since a recital of mine back in February. It was the nicest surprise — I'm not sure why, but afterwards it almost made me cry a little. Seeing all those sweet smiling faces together, and knowing that I was their teacher, it just touched me.

Photo

Not that I'm naive about the challenges of teaching . . . believe me, as loveable as they are, my little munchkins can sure try the patience some days. I've been through more than one Saturday of sleepy 8 year olds, disorganized parents, and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star for the umpteenth time after 6 hours straight in a cramped, windowless studio. There are days when I'm forgetful or frustrated, or both.

Photo

And yet . . . and yet despite all the challenges, teaching is still one of the most rewarding things I've ever attempted. I never tire of hearing my 7 year old beg to play "Brother John" with me again, or of watching as a parent smiles in delight while her child plays "Twinkle" for the first time. I've seen students make breakthroughs after weeks of seeming stagnation. I've watched the most shy little girl change from whispering to her mom every five minutes to spontaneously opening up to me about school, friends, and life. I've taught a brother and sister violin as their baby brother coos adorably through the lesson. I've chatted and laughed with my high school student about everything from summer camp to prom dresses. I feel lucky knowing that not only can I be a teacher and role model to these young students, but a friend as well — a big sister, almost. When I'm going through a tough day — or week, or month, all I have to do is look at these pictures and I remember, this is why I teach.

Photo

"To laugh often, to win the affection of children, to earn the appreciation honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch . . . to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!" — Ralph Waldo Emerson

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on July 18, 2007 at 11:33 PM
Ruth, that is so great. Your students look so happy. They are lucky to have such a wonderful teacher. Are you going to teach when you go to college, too?
From Pauline Lerner
Posted on July 19, 2007 at 1:05 AM
Thank you. That was so beautifully written. You have expressed very well some of the reasons I love teaching. I love teaching one on one, getting to know my students (and, sometimes, their families); becoming friend, confidante, and, sometimes, social worker; and most important, enriching their lives. Teaching is by far the most rewarding (although not financially) of any work I've ever done. I also love the quotation from Emerson, "...to know that one life has breathed easier because you have lived." I think I will post that over my desk.
From Sydney Menees
Posted on July 19, 2007 at 3:35 AM
Too cute, Ruth :)
From Ruth Kuefler
Posted on July 20, 2007 at 12:04 PM
Pauline - yes, I figured I wasn't the only person who feels this way. :) Thankfully since I teach on Saturdays I can contintue when I start my college classes this fall. I don't want to give it up any time soon.

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