Today I am going to keep it real with you. Last semester was a tough one for me. I made the biggest change in my teaching career in over 15 years when I converted my studio from private lessons to group lessons.
I spent the summer scrambling to change my studio space into the new group teaching area…investing in digital pianos, painting walls, organizing, finding new (to me) furniture and coordinating the pickup of it all.
I felt so overwhelmed during the makeover process, that sometimes I would just sit in the middle of my studio and start crying. I didn’t see a way out. There was too much to do, and not enough time to finish it all.
I was caught up in wanting everything to be perfect and I couldn’t see the next step that I needed to take.
I needed this mantra:
With the help from an amazing friend and a wonderful husband who were willing to roll up their sleeves, grab a paintbrush, and let me boss them around, I managed to create a space that was ready to welcome students in time for my open house.
I was printing images and filling my picture frames the morning of the event. It was a scramble to the very end, but now I’m in love with the new space and it is the studio I have always wanted. (Tour of my new space coming soon!)
With the makeover complete, next came actually teaching students in groups. I chose to do “open air” lessons where students play together with no headphones.
The first lesson was great. We talked about what it meant to be a team, how we were going to respect each other, and we practiced group playing techniques that I learned at Debra Perez’s summer workshop.
The second week of the fall semester brought the biggest change in my personal life, when my husband and I accepted our first placement as new foster parents to a 12 year old boy. Many days were spent coordinating therapy, talking to teachers and counselors, getting caught up on medical issues and trying to bond with this new child in our home. While we knew he wouldn’t be with us forever, we wanted him feel welcome and comfortable in our home and get access the services he needed.
During the next months, we experienced some crisis incidents with our foster son that required me to cancel entire evenings of lessons last minute. I wound up feeling the most unreliable and unprepared I have been in my teaching career.
While there have been happy moments as foster parents, the experience has been a much bigger challenge than what I anticipated. I had visions of showing a child love, creating a bond, and feeling like a family. It hasn’t been my vision, but I am grateful for the lessons we’ve learned and that we have been able to provide a home for our foster son while he couldn’t be with his mom.
My new role as a foster mom was taking up most of my head space. I still showed up to lessons, tried to adjust to group teaching and make the best of everything…while I felt like I was barely treading water and stuck in survival mode.
After one of my lessons, I was thinking “Wow, I really should have kept the class more on track. I need to work on my classroom management skills!” Then, I wrote down all of the assignments and the topics we covered. I looked at that list and realized that we had covered way more than I thought!
I was focusing on the one thing that went wrong, instead the many things that were successful.
In that moment, I realized how wired I am I cut myself down and discredit all of the good things I do.
I have a habit of doing this in other areas of my life as well, and wow, do I need to give myself a break!
Today I want to remind you to focus on all of the good you are doing. Of course we are always growing and learning, but look how far you’ve come! Look at all you provide for your students!
You are amazing! Be gentle with yourself.