Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Words That Warm the Heart

I don't think that many of my students realize it: the power they have to make or break my day. I try not to let them have that kind of power over me, but as a teacher, I want so desperately to be an effective, inspiring, excellent teacher and I often let the reactions and comments of my students determine whether I've succeeded at that or not. Can any other teachers identify?

How do you feel when you ask a student to play through a certain passage again, only to sense their resistance to your suggestion through body language or even a spoken comment. Does your sense of worth sink when a student asks "How much time do we have left?" in that hopeful tone that suggests they'd rather be anywhere than on the bench, or react to the end of the lesson with a comment like, "Oh, good!" or "Yay!"

I've experienced these, and many more scenarios that, if I allow them, make me feel like an ineffective, uninspiring teacher. Words can hurt. Children often lack that sense of tactfulness that makes those of us who are more 'mature' think before we speak. The results, as I'm sure you know, can be some pretty honest comments! ;)

But if that's true for the negatives, it's also true for the positives. There's nothing like the smile that breaks over a student's face when they finally experience success over a tricky passage in their music. It's hard to beat the excitement and enthusiasm of an especially hard worker who comes to a lesson barely able to contain the excitement to share what he's learned that week. The little smiles and giggles that break out when we're goofing off a bit during lessons bring a sense of warmth and joy to my heart that make all the negative comments easier to bear. Like yesterday evening, when a student commented in the middle of the lesson, "You're fun!" After a long afternoon/evening of lessons, that comment had the power to give me the extra boost of energy I needed to finish out on a positive note.

There will be days of disappointment in any job, but, in my mind, the rewards of being a teacher and hearing those little words that warm the heart make it all so worthwhile!

Have you experienced encouragement from your students recently?


  1. I totally relate! I've recently had a boy basically refuse to play the piece I gave him, another said he'd rather be home knitting (?!). I have the urge to get angry, blame someone, go home and cry... But the hurt there grew dim when I received a note from a brand new student saying how excited she was that I was her teacher. I didn't deserve that comment anymore than I deserved the negative ones. I'm slowly learning how to graciously accept both the good and the bad, and keep my focus on the One for whom I'm doing it all anyway!

  2. Thanks for your encouragement, both of you!
    I have an early-teen girl whose mother says she's resistent to coming to lesson, drags her feet to the door, but once inside, has a pleasant attitude. I've tried to find some pieces which she will like and which compliment the lesson pieces (syncopated rhythms presently). She seems to enjoy the lessons, and is receptive to both compliments and gentle criticism.
    But, her mother says that she doesn't practice at home, has a bad attitude about piano lessons, and the parents are ready to let her quit. I think if she quits, she might not come back. So, I'm praying for wisdom to know how to speak the gentle words, etc.
    It wouldn't be so bad, except that she's my one student farthest along (finally!!!!!) - playing "real music" and is a joy to have for lessons!
    Guess we just "hang in there" hoping - no trusting -that God will supply all we (and students) need. He IS All-Sufficient!

  3. Thank you both for your comments, and the timely reminder. You're both right- God IS All-Sufficient, and we should be doing everything to His glory! The times when I get most discouraged are those when I realize that I've been simply relying on myself to make things work. When I turn it over to God, I still may experience hurt, but over and above that is the peace of resting in the knowledge that I am where He wants me to be.