Someone once told me that it was okay to pout a bit as long as you admitted you were doing it, ended it, and moved forward. Indulge me a bit as I do just that right here.
This past April I hit the 40th anniversary of my first piano lesson. Somewhere soon here will be the 40th anniversary of my first piano recital. I taught my first private piano student almost 30 years ago and it’s been nearly 2 decades since I taught my first private voice student.
I don’t tell you this to brag. I tell you this to lay the groundwork.
Three times in the past three weeks, I have heard colleagues make statements like the following –
“I’m glad that the kids will still have music, art and p.e. during the standardized testing. The real teachers need a break from the stress.”
“Standardized testing gets the kids wound up. Good thing that they get to go to specials so the actual teachers get a breather.”
I get it. I’m a music teacher and according to those statements I am neither “real” nor “actual”. Apparently I am more accurately described as “fake” or “virtual”.
*sigh* Three times in three weeks I’ve been told by my colleagues that I am not a real teacher. My degrees are real. Both the Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts (major in Music Education) and my Master’s Degree in Education.
I get it. Being a classroom teacher has unique challenges that I do not face in the music room and I have nothing but respect for those in the classroom. But four out of five days each week, I go from teaching elementary general music in the morning to college freshmen and sophomores in the afternoon. That large an age jump brings some unique challenges as well.
The final insult came today when one student said to another “I don’t know why she (meaning me) is so picky about the rules. It’s not like music is a real class.” Interestingly enough, that child’s classroom teacher is one of the one’s who has made a derogatory statement recently. She was number 2.
So what do I do?
I get up tomorrow morning, grit my teeth, and head back into a work place where a handful of my colleagues are willing to belittle what I do and where I get virtually no positive feedback (with the exception some of the parents who spoke to me after the holiday program back in December!) and I do it all again. I signed a contract and will honor the requirements of that contract because it’s the right thing to do.
More importantly, I will NEVER refer to the work that other teachers do as not being real. I know from first hand experience just how lousy that feels and would never do that to another human being.