July 18, 2007 at 4:31 PMThe 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.
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.
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.
"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
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