“When you learn, teach. At our best we are all teachers.”—Maya Angelou
I saw these words on someone’s Facebook timeline Wednesday morning after hearing that Maya Angelou had passed on and it was quite timely considering the conversation I had with my 3rd graders the day before. You see, there were some gifts delivered to the staff and teachers at my school by a group of “Secret Students.” They had made door hangers with inspiring notes of gratitude for the work we do. It was a beautiful token and while I appreciate the gesture, I struggled with what was written on mine:
“I hope you can be a real teacher someday.”
My first thought was that I must not be considered a “real teacher.” (Can you tell that I am much more concerned with how others see me than how I see myself, how God sees me? Help me Jesus!)
I am a music teacher in public education and see my students twice a week for a total less than 90 minutes a week. While I may have the same students year after year from Kindergarten through 6th grade I won’t spend even half of a year like a classroom teacher does. Maybe that’s what a “real teacher” does.
I won’t deny that these words really bothered me mostly because I’ve work harder this year than ever before. I’ve found myself scaling fences that had been obstacles and hindrances in the past. It’s been an incredible process to walk through and I am pleased with the growth I’ve made this year. But the reality is that I am the only one who can truly acknowledge within myself that I am a “real teacher.”
Every day I come to school to learn and help others learn, just like I ask of my students.
Everyday I show up because its what I’m called, created and anointed to do for this season of my life.
Everyday, every year I make sacrifices for the sake of my students so that they can know how to listen and work well with others.
These are the things that happen when you’re part of music instruction.
So what did I tell my students that day? I told them
“At some point in your life you are a teacher. Not just once, but many times over. Everyday there may be someone looking at how you’re handling life.
Someone is paying attention to the way that you listen, how you respond, your actions, the choices you make. It’s called leaving a legacy, a vision for those who come after you.
I want to leave a legacy that inspires others to go outside of their comfort zone and try on new things, to be willing and courageous in not growing stagnant. I want my legacy to be full of passion, hope and determination that you can move forward even when it’s difficult.
We all leave some type of legacy.
What will yours be? How will you making yours count for something incredible?”