One of the many great pleasures of my job is to work with the same children over an eleven-year span. At 3 years old, much of the child’s lifelong character is already in place, a seed awaiting further blossoming. The school’s job is to keep the soil fertile and offer the light towards which the plants grows. The teacher’s job is to keep watering and weeding out the invasive plants that choke growth.
Sometimes the plants seem sickly, infested with the aphids of difficult home-lives or victims of inherited bad seeds. Sometimes the plants thrive in the math or P.E. greenhouse and don’t respond in the music ones. When it comes to human beings, anything can happen.
But in Friday’s 8thgrade class, two kids who have been mostly disengaged in music classes for ten whole years each had a burst of growth and an unexpected flowering, one enthusiastically and competently playing the bass bars and the other the drum set. After all my years of frustration with them and their disconnections with me, one gave me a spontaneous high-five on the way out and the other looked me in the eye and said “Thank you” at the end of class. Another of a thousand reminders over the years to keep faith in each child’s possibility and note the moment of blooming.
That’s one thing I’m going to miss when I stop teaching at school.