Every now and then, something hits me, and when it does, it literally takes my breath away. This evening was one such occasion.
It hits me from time to time just how large a trust I have as a teacher. My school trusts me, my headmaster trusts me, the parents of my students trust me, and, most of all, my students trust me.
They trust me to teach them what I say I will teach them. My students trust that the plays we do will not be embarrassing to them. Their parents trust me to be fair and impartial in the way I administer discipline.
This aspect of trust is not intimidating. Time and schooling and practice help one be trustworthy in these areas.
The aspect of trust that does give me pause, is when that trust comes down to matters of character. To be in an influential role with young, impressionable students is overwhelming at times.
If I am not effective in teaching them how to properly count a sixteenth note or to lift their soft palates when they sing, if they forget what stage left is or how to cheat out, then nothing catastrophic will happen in their lives.
But if they absorb a bad habit or trait of mine, if, by example or precept, I lead them astray somehow, if my steps falter while they are following--that is very different, and I don't want that on my conscience.
I feel the same way with my own children, but for some reason, it's more acute with other people's children. The trust that a parent shows in turning their child over to a teacher is humbling. The trust that a student shows in following a teacher can be overwhelming.
Some of this is self-inflicted. No one expects a perfect teacher. Teachers--this teacher, at least--are human and fallible. Still, I love my students deeply and dearly and want what's best for them. That means, ironically, that I need to be at my best for them. Every day. All day. All year. They may forget what I tell them, but are less likely to forget what I show them.
And that makes me tremble a bit.
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Thoughts about raising and teaching adolescents. You can read the complete series here. (What in the world are Middle School Mondays?) Click here.
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