Teach Me, Shape Me

When I had my first voice lesson I was 15 years old. And I had a really good teacher. This is what made all the difference. A good teacher will teach you the technique, but also how to listen to your voice.
~Cecilia Bartoli

Opening the brown paper bag when I left the school, I found an odd mix of items within. There was a tea bag, a ball of cotton, and a note. Our older son was going to his first day of kindergarten. I was proud, excited, and overcome with emotion. On the piece of paper was written a note of encouragement from an intuitive teacher who had seen many first-timers leave the room with more tears than the student. The note instructed me to dab away my tears and enjoy a cup of tea. What a thoughtful teacher. Her name was Joye, and she was the first of many men and women who would touch our lives during the years our boys were in school — parents and children are both affected, after all. Good teachers are just as Bartoli experienced, teaching technique but also how to listen to your own voice.

From the time I was old enough to play school with my friends, the voice in my head was clear that I should be a teacher. I loved my make-believe classroom, and it took me almost ten years to get through college with a degree and a certificate that told other people I could be a real teacher. My husband and I agreed that I would stay home with our children, and I became a volunteer teacher-parent. What a wonderful opportunity it was for me to be able to teach in that way!

The Tuesday of the first full week of May is always National Teacher Appreciation Day here in the United States, and this year it falls on May 7th. There are many teachers in a person’s life, and not all of them are in a classroom of a building.

  • You’ve chosen to homeschool — you are the teacher in your child’s life in so many ways
  • You’ve taken time to show your neighbor’s child how to feed the birds or shoot a basketball — you are a teacher
  • You’ve taught your child how to bake a recipe that has been in your family for generations — you are a teacher
  • You’ve helped an adult learn to read — you are a teacher
  • You’ve shared your love of knitting with someone who can now knit a scarf — you are a teacher
  • You’ve taught a buddy to play a few chords on the guitar — you are a teacher

Teachers come in all times of our lives, don’t they? We need teachers, good teachers, in our lives from the time we breathe our first breath to our final exhalation. Some of my favorite lessons are taught by younger people, even small children. What can we learn from these teachers in small bodies?

be nice, be curious, take risks, have fun, be silly, ask questions

My own children are grown now, so why do I care about the schools? I pay taxes, and my taxes support the local schools, so I believe I’ve invested in the future of students. I know that the children in those classrooms are the technicians, plumbers, doctors, mechanics, mayors, city planners, senators, CNA’s, gardeners, farmers, writers, and even the teachers of tomorrow. I care about the teachers in the classrooms, their ability to teach, and what they are teaching. I’m glad to take this one day to say Thank You to those who teach and those who have taught. Look around your town and see what is going on in the schools that you might offer your support, and your thanks.

Deciding to look around my own town, I’ve seen some great things happening in schools nearby.

It turns out, we have a local elementary school that is one of 15 in the state to be designated as a STEM school. They are preparing their students for life in ways other than what is in textbooks.

STEM and STEAM — when I was growing up, the stem was part of a flower and the steam was what came out of an engine. Today, I know that Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math are the areas represented by the letters. Some programs don’t include Art, so they are simply STEM. Look in your community for many places outside of schools working to bring STEAM to the youth.

One of our high schools has been ranked 1st in the state and 5th in the country. That makes me want to learn more about what they are doing to help children learn and be prepared.

Several of our elementary students recently had their art displayed at an art museum. They are learning that there are places to see art and to learn about and celebrate the lives and methods of artists.

We need to teach children that not everything has to be educational. They might learn about the life cycle of the butterfly or a frog by raising caterpillars and tadpoles, but it doesn’t have to be a box to mark that they’ve learned something. Hats off to the teachers in schools and homes who teach by example — teaching that it’s ok and even healthy to take a break, to play outside, to read for fun; teaching that technique is important but listening to our voices is imperative.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019, is National Teacher Appreciation Day. It will be May 5 in 2020 — mark your calendar! Thank you to the teachers in schools, the teachers under the guise of friends, and the teachers in the appearance of young people who have patiently instructed me in all manners of life. Thank you especially to the ‘teachers’ who taught me to listen to my own voice.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: