Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Dreams and Hopes

“Seeking perfection, we see what our dreams and hopes might look like. We realize they come as a gift through no power of our own, and if we lose them, isn’t that almost worse than never having had them in the first place?”
Roger Ebert, (1942-2013), his last review of “To the Wonder”

In spite of the weather here in England, the end of school is in sight. No ends of lyrics have addressed this event. Whether you subscribe to Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” or The Happenings' “See You In September” or even Frank Sinatra’s “My Way”, the closing of the school year evokes mixed memories. Your mission, should you choose to accept Mr. Phelps, is composed of three parts:

Reflect: There are a lot of questions you can ask – it might be tough going. Søren Kierkegaard remarked, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” Remember the goals you set for yourself at the beginning of the year? Reflection shouldn’t beat you with your own rods. Take a good look, a realistic look and judge how you are doing. Did you the meet them easily or were you frustrated in not achieving the goal? Can you set better goal for next year? Can you set more challenging goals next year? Can you set more realistic goals for you student and your self?

Re-create: Go wild. Explore. Travel. Paint. Dance. Read. Sketch. Take photographs. Whatever you do to re-create that joyful self. Be creative. Compose. Arrange. Sing. Play. Master that particular nasty spot in the piece that you’ve always wanted to play or sing.  No more attendance, fire drills, telling offs and dressing down. Refresh your spirit.

Re-juvenate: Wait a minute – doesn’t re-create mean the same thing? There’s a sting in the tail. Literally take another shot a being “youthful” and learn a new skill from the start. It is very hard to learn something ab initio. Learn a new instrument. Learn a skill. Learn a piece of technology. Learn a new sport. Get your perspective aligned with your students. Try a different style of performance on your principal instrument. Try bluegrass instead of baroque; art songs instead of jazz.  Experience the thrill of conquering new heights and challenges. Chaucer said, “And gladly wolde he lerne, and gladly teche.”  Try your “inner student” on for size.

Teaching, like baseball, has its sages. I leave you with the immortal words of Yogi Berra, “Ninety percent of this game is half mental.”

Remember the three steps of your mission and have fun! See you next year!