Thursday, July 18, 2013

Teachers: what you say does make a difference!

I've been doing a lot of cleaning.

Going through old boxes, consolidating things, getting rid of things that no longer have value to me anymore.

In all of this, I came across an box filled with old diaries - really old diaries. I started flipping through the one from 1983 (I turned from 12 to 13 that year) and after reading about silly crushes on boys I don't remember, things I would knit and sew, working in the greenhouses - and marveling at how much I illustrated my journals then (I guess I've always sketch-noted), I came across this entry:

March 7, 1983

Dear Kate (I used to address my journals to different imaginary friends)
Today I beaded another medallion for Solvej.
At band I played for Mr. Clark on my flute. He said I was very good and he remembers a little girl two years ago who came in and sat at the end of the first row. He said he remembers her because she couldn't play a note on her flute in front of everyone because of her nerves. She used to cry when she was in private for a test because she was so afraid that she would fail. He stopped giving her tests for a while and everytime a test came up he would ask her if she wanted to try and she kept saying 'no' for months. At last she said 'yes' and she played it. She got an A+! She was so suprized she started to lagh. She couldn't stop laghing and he remembers letting the band go early and he kept her there and had her play the song again. After all this he said "You've come a long way. Good Luck on the Talent Show."


Reading this brought tears to my eyes...Mr. Clark, wherever you are, thank you.

I have no memory of any of this...and have thought that I always had confidence in front of others. I can stand up in front of a large group and speak without hesitation, without butterflies, without my heart rate increasing at all. It's something that I do pretty regularly in my adult life.

Somehow, this experience which would have been completely left buried in my childhood/youth has become part of who I am, how I thought I always have been.

Clearly, I was not always this way.

In coming across this journal entry, I think that might just be in large part thanks to Mr. Clark.

Another teacher would have handled this very differently, even today -Mr. Clark, you were ahead of your time! Thank you for letting me come to my strength on my own, for creating the space in which I could gain the skills and confidence to demonstrate what I was capable of. Thank you for not pushing, shaming or bullying me into something I was not ready for, and for having the flexibility to allow the time for my process. By being my music teacher, you taught me much more than the fundamentals of how to play the flute, but how to be confident, to handle my anxiety, to push my own boundaries.

So. Several pages later in the diary, on March 18, 1983, is a fragmented entry under 'Talent Show'

I'll spare you all the details of my twelve year old lens on the world, but will share this:

"I won first prize for the talent show. We all (our family) went out for dinner to celebrate. We went to Eng's for chinese food."

Until next time,

1 comment:

swooze said...

Been thinking about you. So glad to see you post. I had several of those teachers that helped build my confidence. Those are the true heros!