March 19, 2016

I haven’t written in a while.  I spent the entirety of last year documenting all that I do/did to create the Ridge High School Choral Program in this blog.  I attached lesson plans and worksheets.  You want it – take it.  It was an answer to a promise I made to my husband, Rick and my friend Todd who felt that I should write a book.  Who would read it?  My answer and compromise was this blog.

It was fun to do.  I have enjoyed revisiting it.  But the truth is, with the exception of different kids and repertoire, it is the same format I have used for years and will continue to use for years.  It works.  It’s effective.  It creates a positive learning environment and has a long-lasting effect on students which brings me to today’s thoughts.

I enjoy contributing to my FaceBook page as it is the only social media I explore.  I use the page to make people aware of the activities I have going on at Ridge, to share moments of success and pride. I like to post pictures of travel and my Grand-Nieces.   I enjoy reading about my friends and family as they share their day-to-day joys and sorrows.

I am blogging today because I have been pondering the idea of luck and gratitude vs. hard work and life experience.  As defined by Webster’s dictionary; LUCK means the things that happen to a person because of chance: the accidental way things happen without being planned; success in doing or getting something.

After the last few choral events I have conducted at Ridge, I found myself posting that I felt lucky to have shared said experiences with my singers and their audience.  I read the comments of colleagues with a similar number of years experience who are saying similar things.  So, I find myself wondering about hard work and life experiences by its very definition vs. the idea of luck.

Lately, as I’ve mentioned, my FB colleagues with years of teaching experience seem to be posting about feeling lucky and blessed.  Are they lucky or are they feeling the give-back from the investment they’ve made, day-in and day-out, in every kid and every lesson and every note which is not “luck” but the fruits and rewards of their labor?   I know after 35 years in the classroom (which is incomprehensible and a whole ‘nother blog!), while it feels lucky, it really is/was:

  • the consistency of my teaching style
  • the patience and understanding to be able to separate the love I have for the kid from their not-so-pleasant behavior
  • the determination on my part to see a project to fruition, and
  • to tap into the experience of knowing that for the most part, it’s all “small stuff”.

I watch the FB posts of the frustrations of the middle years teachers and remember all too well feeling that I was always right (not) and that if I screamed and shouted, someone might actually listen (they rarely did).  I watch the posts of the fresh-outs and am so very glad I never have to experience the beginning again.

There is something to be said for those of us who have hunkered down and invested our entire lives to a single program.  My memory is not always kind to me so I struggle with the concept of having spent nearly 36 years in the same place – watching so many come and go – seeing the population explode – and finally, after six renovations, having a beautiful teaching space in which to spend my days.  Am I lucky or did the investment pay off?

My experienced colleagues have a method of success, a pattern they know as tried and true for creating a finished product that is now admired by those in their world.  They are comfortable in their skin.  They are role models by daily demonstration to the next generation of young people with whom they work.  They are unmoved by the next new educational phenomena because they have been around long enough to know it is likely another (expensive) passing phase.  They have lives away from their classrooms that are meaningful and contributory.  They can tell emotional stories of exceptional performances and stories of deep emotional loss.  They have invested in life and reaped its rewards.  Are they lucky?  Yes, because, by definition,  they’ve surely experienced success by chance and success that has not been a part of a lesson plan but was a byproduct of their experience and investment.

Bird on Cyc

This photo was a lucky shot.  It was also taken by a woman with years of experience as a professional photographer.  The perfect example of luck and experience – what a winning combination!

Thanks for reading.

Barbara