Maybe other teachers out there can identify, but I often find that in my role as a private instructor I am my own worst enemy. I tend toward the Type-A, self-critical, OCD side of the spectrum, and I often find myself in a paralysis of over-analysis if a lesson goes less than perfect. I get stymied in the "what if I'd done this instead..." or "I should have handled it this way..." and rather than maintaining a positive outlook find myself focusing solely on the negative and what went WRONG. I interpret no news as bad news and beat myself up over hypothetical complaints that students must be harboring against me, their inept teacher.
Funny thing is, I've been realizing in the past year that so much of this is only a product of my imagination. There have been countless instances where I have found my own worst fears- situations that have caused me to be frustrated and irritated for days- to be completely unfounded, blown way out of proportion, and ridiculous in light of the perception of the other person(s) involved.
Take this past week for example. I have had the privilege of starting two new students in the past three weeks. They are good friends and in the same class at school. One of the girls came for her second lesson this past week and informed me that her friend had reported being "a bit disappointed" after her first lesson. I immediately started the downward spiral of self-criticism. What had I done wrong? How could I have structured things differently in the lesson to better meet her expectations? I spent the better part of an entire day worrying about the issue and agonizing over the fact that I had somehow failed with my newest student. Then this morning I received the first-lesson followup email response on my newest student in my inbox. The mother wrote how her daughter was practicing every night, loving everything, and especially enjoying the rote song I had taught her in the lesson. My fears evaporated in an instant. My worries and agonizings had been completely groundless and unfounded.
I write all this in a spirit of humiliation, but more than that as a reminder to myself and to all those teachers out there who are like me. If you tend to focus only on the negative, start to understand that your perceptions usually are much different from those of the student or the parent. What you perceive as a failure, they might not even have acknowledged. As my own worst enemy, I need to take a step back and try to see from the other side. If I did this more often, and worried less about all the unknowns, I would be a much happier teacher :)