Teachers are like musicians. They make their craft look easy, but few in their audience realize and appreciate the hours of preparation and practice that goes into The Final Performance. I will have spent hours practicing the piano for a mere five minutes of glory. Likewise, I often spend three to four hours preparing for a 45 minute lesson.
Like a musician, a lack of preparation can lead to a bad performance. One musician told the story that if he skipped practice one day, he noticed. If he skipped two days, his critics noticed and if he skipped three days, his audience noticed. (I’ve looked all over the Internet to credit this story but couldn’t find a source. If you know, please comment!) Sunday School teachers often joke about preparing their lessons Saturday night. When a teacher sees that Saturday night special turn sour Sunday morning, it’s no laughing matter.
Like musicians, teachers occasionally fight stage fright or nervousness, especially when they encounter a new audience or circumstances throw a curve ball at them. Only experience teaches both the teacher and the musician to squelch the jitters. Like musicians, they squirm more when they must face their peers or superiors. Nothing intimidates me more than when I teach the Senior Saints Sunday School class at my church, especially when a local college teacher sits in the front row!
Like musicians, teachers are passionate about what they do. They love the art of teaching. They long to impart the beauty of knowledge to their audience.
Like musicians, most teachers care deeply about what they do. They strive for perfection. It scares me silly when I read James 3:1 that warns that not many should become teachers because teachers will be held more accountable. May God keep me from ever leading a child astray! I love to teach, but I am constantly aware that I am responsible for the information and life lessons I impart and the trust my students (and their parents) place in me. Like musicians, we have our critics and those who would challenge what we teach.
Like solo musicians, it’s lonely with just you on that stage. You must exude confidence and poise whether you feel it or not. Somehow, even though it is just you, you must connect with those in front of you, carrying them along on the waves of your message.
Yet teachers don’t often receive the public acclaim musicians receive. Unlike musicians who give occasional performances, a teacher stands before students day after day, or week after week in the case of Christian education. Teachers mold the views and thought processes of their students and their encouragement and challenges can impact a student for a lifetime.
For the next few posts, I’ll feature some of my favorite teachers, the teachers who have impacted my teaching and my life. Who are some of your favorite teachers? Why were they special to you? Write me and tell me about them. Then, if you can, in this season of Thanksgiving, I encourage to drop them a note, thanking them for what they have taught you and how they encouraged you.