I know, I know… you’ve heard it all before.
All the things you SHOULD be doing to be the BEST MUSIC TEACHER EVER!!
But what does that even mean? How do you define ‘best’ or ‘successful’ or….any of those terms?
If you can’t define the desired outcome, how can you know if you’ve achieved it?
In his book “The 7 Spiritual Laws of Success“, Deepak Chopra defines success as ‘The continued expansion of happiness and the progressive realization of worth goals.”
As music teachers, we have a much wider range of data points with which to define progression. Very few if any of us are subjected to standardized testing with progression being tracked and judged.
We have a much more qualitative, public, exposing and subjective method of assessment: musical performances. Our classrooms are intentionally noisy and often could be seen as chaotic. Our jobs tend to have high physical, mental, and emotional demands…not to mention logistical and chronological demands!
Thus, the habits that we can develop that will drive our successes are slightly different from those that other teachers may desire to develop.
I submit to you these essential 5:
Habit 1: Get Over It Quickly
Whether it’s an argument with another teacher, a disciplinary talk with your admin, a pissed-off parent, belligerent student or a poor mark on a contest performance…things go down that make us feel…well…crappy.
The best thing we can do is learn how to accept these things, make the necessary changes, and move on.
Not sure how to do that and do it quickly? READ THIS POST. Then get back to your badass music teaching self!
Habit 2: Meditate On the Good
I am a big believer in meditation- whether sitting in silence with a single-minded goal, humming a mantra, or listening to a guided meditation- all of the above count! If you’re new to meditation I would recommend starting with a guided meditation, one that walks you through what to do with your body and mind. After several weeks of this, then move to a single-minded meditation, one where you sit quietly and focus on a single thing- like a mantra. Once you feel comfortable with that, go to silent meditation- go from thinking to feeling.
It is by practicing silence, practicing controlling our thoughts, and practicing feeling GOOD that we can move these awesome moments so that they are more and more frequent in our daily lives.
For example: when I have a classroom that feels [or IS] out of control, I simply take a deep breath and tap into that feeling I practiced in meditation that morning. You can go from total chaos to total peace in about 0 seconds flat.
Habit 3: Remind Yourself of Your Goals
When I sat down at my computer today I looked at my to-do list and thought: “Why? Why do I have to do all of this STUFF? Why don’t I just shut things down and go play out in the pool with my kids all afternoon?”
And I could do that.
And I would regret it.
Not just because I don’t have a bottle of Moscato to enjoy while I’m out there, but because I have set some lofty goals for myself and though connecting with my kids is on the top of my list, if I don’t do these other things then I won’t be progressing in my professional goals.
It’s moments like this when I look at my vision board. It’s just a bunch of pictures and words taped to the back of my bedroom door that remind me of my goals and why I sit at my computer writing blog posts like this one!
You have a reason for why you do what you do. You have some serious goals you want to achieve. You have the ability to make it happen. You know this is true.
So create a little reminder for yourself so that when you have those moments where you are asking “WHY?!?!? Why am I standing on this podium trying to get these 3 clarinet players to cover the holes so they can stop squeeking already!?” or “WHY on earth am I standing in this room full of hormones watching these bratty teenagers flirt with each other instead of focusing on the music for our choir concert next week?!?!”
You will be able to look at something and be reminded of the answer: your WHY.
Habit 4: Practice Self Care
Let’s face it: you’re a giver.
If you wanted to make millions of dollars you wouldn’t be doing this. If you wanted to be famous around the world, you wouldn’t be doing this. If you wanted to be powerful and respected by more than just 350 K-5 students, you wouldn’t be doing this.
You are noble.
When you spent 12 hours at school you like to brag about it.
The type of person with that mindset is also the type of person who is willing to sacrifice their own wellness so that their students can benefit.
But the issue here is when you give and give and give of yourself without ever putting more into whatever you’re giving from then eventually you can’t give any more.
You can’t give when you’re sick. You can’t give when you’re stressed out. You can’t give when you’re overweight. You can’t give when you’re living off coffee and donuts and burning the candle at both ends.
But you CAN continue to give to others if you give to yourself. If you give yourself the very best.
Rest. Eat healthy foods. Take time every day to do something you enjoy!
Habit 5: Raise Your Standards
If you truly want to be successful as a music teacher, you have to have a high-quality music program. Your students have to be learning and performing and growing.
You have to hold your students and yourself to the highest standards.
That’s how you win…and win it all.
Kudos at concerts, superiors at festivals, funding coming out the wah-zoo…. if you have a killer music program that the kids love, that the administration loves, and that the community loves then you absolutely are successful.
So keep your standards high. Don’t show up and be like, “Well here we are a gonna play another song and it will sound okay but at least I have a job.” Because then you’re not doing anyone a good turn. You’re not serving anyone. If your stakeholders are shaking their heads wondering why you are still the music teacher when the kids hate going to music, your ensemble is an embarrassment… then it’s time to either up your standards or get out of the profession.
[Am I talking a little too real? Have you thought about leaving music teaching? If so, check out THIS BLOG POST about how to know if it’s time to quit.]
I would LOVE to hear from you: which of these habits do you already have, and which ONE do you want to start developing TODAY?
Share your thoughts in the comments section below.