Slow Down! Personal by Joel Wagner - February 23, 2008May 29, 20166 I realized some things today There will never be enough time to do everything I want to do There will never be enough money to do everything I want to do There will never be enough people to do everything I want to do The music will never sound good enough Kids will continue to fail their classes, no matter how important I tell them that passing is Parents will never be happy enough with everything I do in the classroom I will never be caught up on paperwork But ya know what else I realized? That’s part of the enjoyment of the process. If I didn’t have anything to do, I wouldn’t be necessary. Meaningless tasks don’t bring fulfillment, no matter how lucrative they are. So what am I doing? I’m slowing down. My teaching. My movement. My hurry. It must stop. I must stop. I must enjoy my life. That’s part of the enjoyment of the process. If I didn’t have anything to do, I wouldn’t be necessary. Meaningless tasks don’t bring fulfillment, no matter how lucrative they are. One of my 8th grade flute players came in this week and showed me her brand new cell phone. She has been through like three or four expensive cell phones in the last two and a half years. I told her that she needs to learn to be content with what she has. She told me she is, but her dad wanted her to get a new phone. Then it hit me. I’m not content with what I have all the time either. Sure I’m better than I have been in the past, but I still have a long way to go before I can truly say I’m content. I went over to the other band director’s house today and we talked about school. He told me some things that really hit me hard. He told me that he usually stresses about the bands, but he’s not this year. Not even mariachi. When they go to competition, they actually rank them, whereas concert band competitions are rated (Superior, Excellent, Good, etc.). This means the mariachi has the chance to get first place, or last place, or anywhere in between. The fact that he is not stressing is huge since he’s not even there. He has absolutely no control over the bands, and yet he doesn’t worry. So it’s my turn to follow. I’m slowing down. My teaching. My movement. My hurry.We have about six weeks of classes left until contest. Both bands can play through almost all of their music. I anticipate them being able to play it all by Wednesday. This means that they can all be practicing it at home and I can spend class working on overall band sound (tone). So there is no rush. If they miss a note, they miss a note. I stop, tell them they missed a note, and move on. Previously, I would stop, immediately begin talking fast and telling them that they were wrong. Beginning this week, I will slow down: Stop “Trumpets B natural.” Play again I also plan to limit my words. The less I say, the more they play. The more they are engaged (as in any class), the more focused and on-task they are. Another thing that bothers me is that because of my intensity, I tend to not listen to kids. I miss their explanations because I want them to be quiet so that I can get on with doing what I know I need to do. But how important is doing what I need to do if everyone does it begrudgingly? I understand that I don’t need middle school friends, that was part of my problem when I first began teaching. I somehow believe I have gone to the other extreme. Now it’s time to find the middle ground where I am strict enough to keep the flow of the class happening, while still not stomping on the toes of everyone who gets in my way. That will be my remaining challenge for the rest of the school year. I want to thank all of the wonderful people who have commented and continue to comment on Not The Best Day Ever. I truly have taken many of the kind and corrective words you have shared with me to heart. If you haven’t read it, check out my latest comment there as well.If you haven’t chimed in, please do so. Also, I want to take this opportunity to ask you to invite one friend to read (and possibly subscribe) to this blog. I’d like to see if we can get to 200 subscribers by the time my spring break begins on March 15th. Joel WagnerJoel Wagner (@sywtt) began teaching band in 2002. Though he had a lot of information, his classes were out of control. He found himself tired, frustrated, disrespected by students, lonely, and on the brink of quitting. He had had enough. He resigned from his school district right before spring break of his second year and made it his personal mission to learn to be a great teacher. So You Want To Teach? is the ongoing story of that quest for educational excellence.