“Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve” Martin Luther King Jr.
As I write my final article as President of the Alabama Music Educators, I am struck buy how quickly the time has raced by and how many things have changed in our profession and daily life in the last 2 years. It has been a true honor to serve the music educators of our state and I appreciate the opportunity given by the membership. My journey of teaching and leadership has been molded by teachers, colleagues, mentors and family who have often said just the small things to keep me centered. An encouraging word or a moment of interest and support might be just thing we each need. What we do as music teachers is valid and important – I have never been more convinced of this. I have been guided by a few phrases that I hope will be helpful or interesting to you as you step into the classroom each day.
Keep moving forward– Some days this is all we need to get us through.
Get 1- 3 things done a day– We all get overwhelmed by having so much on our plate. If we can focus on completing just a few things, we will feel confident and successful. I love to check something off a list!
Teach for the long haul – My mom was a music teacher her entire life and this was a big piece of her teaching philosophy. We sometimes make decisions or react in ways that might seem the easiest or most efficient route in the moment. However, in the long run, this might not be wisest course of action. Be careful to not allow short term outcomes override long term goals.
Don’t always apologize– As teachers and servant leaders we sometimes take the blame for things that aren’t our fault or we apologize just to make someone else feel better. This is something I have learned through the strength and guidance of my daughters.
Celebrate successes but never be satisfied– Music teachers must be our own marketing team and tell all about the successes of our students and programs. We are our own best advocates and should tell those in our communities. As well, standards of success should be something that changes and continues to move forward. Don’t ever be satisfied!
You deserve to be appreciated– Sometimes it is easy to be caught in the mindset that music is a service only to a community and not an academic venture with standards and rigor. We can feel under-appreciated as teachers and administrators. Support other teachers and this will come back many times over.
Don’t burn bridges– We are faced daily with outside negativity or challenging circumstances as teachers. It is tempting to say or email something we might regret as reaction. Try to count to 10 or run it by someone you trust before hitting send!
Model who you want those around you to be – I see so many wonderful educators in all fields I want to emulate. Our students look up to us. If we don’t like their behavior or reactions, we should take a moment to evaluate our own.
Find a hobby – Our jobs can be so all encompassing that we forget to care for ourselves. One of my mentors, Linda Gammon, taught me that having a hobby or interest outside of music was important to keep a fresh outlook as a teacher.
Every child deserves a champion – You might be the only person who sees value in a child. Take that responsibility seriously. When they try your patience, wipe the slate clean and start over tomorrow. My husband Robert often says “Be on the lookout for Mozart.” We might have a Mozart in our class and we need to nature and foster that talent.
As teachers, we choose a career of servant leadership by the nature of the job. We try to leave things better than we found it. Along the way we make a lasting impact on our students, communities and families. It isn’t always easy and sometimes it doesn’t seem worth it. However, all it takes is that one lightbulb or “thank you” to make it all worthwhile. AMEA is a strong organization because of the leadership of those who have come before and will continue to thrive if YOU become involved and help guide the future path. I hear people say “I don’t know how to get involved” or “there is no place for me.” Here are some ways to get started making a connection to the state music organization:
Attend an AMEA Professional Development Conference– While we always have good attendance at conference, we want a larger percentage of the music teachers in the state to benefit from the information and performances shared. Encourage a colleague in your area or a younger teacher to attend as well.
Apply to present at conference– Our application process is live and available on the website. We are accepting applications for educational sessions and ensemble performances until June 1. We will also be gathering applications through October 1st for our Lightning Round session which includes 6-10 minute sessions. We are also accepting applications for small ensemble chamber performances. If you have a great idea to share, this is the place!
Start a Tri-M Music Honor Society Chapter – This is great way to grow support for your music program at your school and to encourage collaboration within the arts programs. It can also bring recognition for your students at the level of the other academic honor societies in your school. High School and Junior High School chapters alike can bring schools together with very little effort and highlight what you are doing in your music program.
Support a collegiate CNAFME chapter – If you have a college CNAFME chapter near you, invite them into your classroom for hands-on experience.
You might also offer to speak to the group about what you do in the classroom each day.
Division clinics and service– Each of our AMEA Divisions offer multiple sessions and clinics throughout the year. From the Elementary Orff and Kodaly workshops to the All State Choir or Orchestra Festivals and Summer ABA Conference, there are many chances to make connections and get involved. We are always looking for those to serve as district officers and state officers and that level of service usually starts with moving a riser or music stand and pitching in at any event.
Congratulations to our new President Elect, David Raney and Recording Secretary, Carla Gallahan. Your willingness to serve is much appreciated. Special thank you to the most recent Past Presidents, Dr. Carl Hancock and Dr. Sara Womack for their guidance and patience. Thank you to Greg Gumina for your help and support and your never-ending optimism. The calming daily leadership of Garry Taylor has guided each president during his tenure and the strength of the organization is a direct result of his steadfast commitment to the betterment of music education in Alabama.
Finally, thank you to my family for your support and ability to focus my daily walk. I appreciate the time you have given up in the interest of AMEA and for your constant love and encouragement.
Remember to get involved and teach for the long haul!
“Some people give time, some money, some their skills and connections, some literally give their life’s blood. But everyone has something to give.” Barbra Bush