No Shortcuts.

There is no easy way to say this so I’ll just say it, “There is no shortcut”. Whether it be parenting, teaching, administrating, leading, coaching…whichever you’ve signed up for, if you want success, it’s a ‘both feet’ commitment. If you want better, than it’s got to be a giant leap off of that frightening or exhilarating cliff. Anything less is a disservice to the young souls who enter our doors on a daily basis.

These youngsters – and yes 18 year olds are still youngsters! often start their school years with hope, expectation, and trust. Of course there are those who come with a quiet desperation that this ‘school thing’ will provide a safe place, a place of acceptance, a reprieve from chaos.

This past week the video “To This Day” written by Shane Koyzcan has been making its way around the internet. The almost seven minutes are well worth watching. I suspect the majority of us can relate in some way to the message. It is a heartfelt plea to pay attention. To be aware. It’s not all pretty, nice, and kind in our buildings.  Our own school experiences impacted us. Some of us got through unscathed, others not so much.  If it happened to us; if it’s still happening now, we need to pay attention. We must stop trying the shortcuts – suspensions, programs, expulsions, designations/diagnosis. It’s going to take a heart change. It’s about relationships! It really is. And relationship building takes time and comes at a cost. Because in every relationship there is a risk of rejection.

Rejection hurts.

In my early career as a music specialist, there was an opportunity to connect with students; more importantly students connected with each other. Music brought a calm to young hearts. Music forced us to pay attention, to be mindful. Together we created beauty – ok maybe not in Beginning Band…that wasn’t always beautiful.

Decades later, I’m teaching self-regulation skills, mindfulness, and bully prevention. It’s fabulous to have some hard evidence to prove what we music teachers always knew; we must slow down, we must pay attention to things around us, we must listen and feel.

Education can not just be about the peripheral, it has to acknowledge  the internal. Music touches the internal. Letters and feedback I’ve received from former students would verify that those goofy sounds and songs, those crazy instruments, those hours of practice had an impact. A positive impact. They gave those students a touchstone. And isn’t that what we’re using ‘the chime’ for now? To help ground and bring focus to our charges, and truth be told to ourselves.

I am growing weary of the never ending discussion about what kind of devices we should buy/use. Laptops? iPads, Tablets, BYOD? To what end? It matters less to me what tool we use than how we connect our students with their inner strengths. It matters less to me whether we integrate, or have pull out groups as long as we can know our students and their needs are being met.

As I walk through the halls of my schools, and hear the sounds of learning; yes there is a sound, it touches my heart. As I look into classrooms and bear witness to the engagement between teacher/student; student/student, my heart sings with gratitude. As I witness relationships in action, I have hope that we can prevent bullying, that we are meeting the needs of our youngsters. We are teaching them to connect with their hearts because WE are connecting with their hearts.

Then sings my soul. Better is Possible.


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