Wednesday, September 21, 2011
I have been to a lot of teacher meetings in the last two weeks. My local, two classes, and a state level meeting have jarred me back to the life I used to live. I used to float among my peers and jabber with them, without any second thoughts. I took a 4 year sabbatical of sorts from many of these meetings while I was at my church job, and now I'm back, I think.
In those years of teaching before my hiatus, I became numb to the comments of the independent music teacher. I guess I trusted them and knew their personalities and could shrug my shoulders to much of it. I liken it to watching and getting desensitized to horror movies? Sort of?
I have recently found myself speechless when I usually had a quick retort to the various things that music teachers say. Don't get me wrong. I put myself in this select group of people. It's not our fault you know. We teach in a cave. We are isolated from our peer group and routine office banter. We are critically listening to students for hours on end. We even critically listen to the radio. We are encouraged to share our critiques with our students, and we begin to edge toward a teacher-student relationship with everyone, even people with whom we should be friends. I am one of the younger teachers in this arena, and I think I am sometimes regarded as needing daughterly advice. This is merely a guess.
So what happened to me? Why do these fairly innocuous conversations have me perplexed and wondering, what, exactly, did I used to talk about? Did I speak to others this way? I am so sorry when I did.
I will share a few examples with you for which I was dumbfounded. Perhaps you can help me think of something witty that I could have said. Maybe your humor will help me put aside my shock at these obviously common occurrences. May I be quick with an apology when I find myself becoming more like that. And I probably will because I will spend more time with them.
Piano teacher #1 approached me as I was seated in the classroom. She has known me over 20 years, but I was already coloring my hair back then! She was already graying then and has a beautiful, coiffed silver style today. She checked my roots (because I was seated!) and asked whether I color my hair. She commented on the pretty highlighting in the back and wondered how I had done that. I said only that I had been in the sun a lot this summer in my garden. Then I didn't answer her question. I just looked at her.
Piano teacher #2 at the break of the same class commented on my purple jacket and wondered whether it was real leather. When I said I didn't really know, she asked what I had paid for it, because that was one way to tell. I told her I had bought it at Macy's and she said that answered her question, turned around and left me standing there.
Piano teacher #3 skipped pleasantries other than a smile and a hello, and asked me what I was charging now. Her sister-in-law is teaching in my neighborhood and although her s-i-l only played through high school, she likes to charge $1.00 less than I do and was hoping I had raised my rates.
It seems a strange way to be welcomed back, but I'm back, I I I guess. Or I could just stay in my cave.