“My class and I are tied together like music notes. Everyone has a different note, but we all come together to make a beautiful song.” That’s what Ashley Scott, a first-grade teacher at Georgetown Elementary School, once said. I like that metaphor, that visual. It parallels one of my favorite duets of all time, “Ebony and Ivory” by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder. The sentiment is the same, obviously. Together in harmony. The intricate balance between low and high notes that bring differences together in order to create something beautiful.
Inside the microcosm of the classroom, each individual person, including the teacher, brings something important to the stage. Without the energy of the misbehaving student, there would be no lessons in overcoming disruptions to our perfectly laid out plans. Without the go-getter, there would be no model for pro-action and work ethic. Without the withdrawn kid who never says a word, there would be no training in conversation. The diversity within a classroom is vast, but the song plays on.
But isn’t it neat to draw the same parallel to the big ‘ole world outside our classrooms? The profound message Mrs. Scott, Mr. McCartney, and Mr. Wonder present about the power of mixing together all our differences in order to make beautiful music is unparalleled and the very basis for our survival.
This is my opinion, of course, but as a career educator, I see the way things are headed for our classrooms and our society. Perhaps we learn the skill somewhere in our teacher classes – the ability to perceive what’s coming, see the future, anticipate the inevitable. But however we teachers develop that keen sense of prediction, we all have it to some degree. And to be honest, sometimes our perceptions of the future scare us, causing many of us to run for other careers.
We see the deterioration of acceptance and kindness. We see the hate that flares up as excuses to behavior. We feel the brunt of blame that aims to distract from the root cause of poor choices. We pick up the pieces of shattered innocence that results in a lack of accepting responsibility.
In our classrooms, there are tubas out of tune and drums flailing off beat; flutes playing a different song and trumpets playing too loudly. But there, standing firmly in the front is a confident, caring conductor who simply lifts the baton and taps the chaos back to order.
Mrs. Scott gets it. She sees the importance of playing to each child’s strength. She notices the power of the positive that can happen when she uplifts the capabilities within every single child, not the deficits. She identifies a role each child plays in the inter working of their own learning, and then she highlights those roles. She allows each child to find his or her note, and then like a magical maestro, she directs the chorus. The result is nothing short of Carnegie Hall.
Our world needs more people who are able to hear the many individual notes and put them all together in a harmonious melody. Not everyone is cut out to do that. So, thank goodness for our public-school maestros. Amid the turmoil in our lives today, we are blessed to have remarkable conductors standing on the rostrums inside our classrooms, who willingly take on all the responsibilities of directing a bunch of mismatched notes in the hopes of creating a masterful piece of music. Bravo, Teachers. Bravo.
Sheryl Green is a secondary educator from Columbus. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.