Kenley Kristofferson


Tag: graduation

Music Ed Monday – The Gift is Ours

Around this time of the year, teachers often get cards and letters and usually for thanks.  It’s a nice gesture and I always look forward to it.

That sounds a  bit pretentious, but given that the nature of our job is to help other human beings further themselves and figure out the world around them, the notion that some of them may be grateful isn’t a strange one.

What said students don’t often realize is that the gift goes both ways – in many cases, we are better because you are here.

In the event that a student is reading this, you may realize that we have made several demands on you over the course of your time with us.  A great many of the times, you’ve probably met us every step of the way.  Fewer of you will exceed our expectations and even fewer will fail to meet them.

In all cases, the teacher learns from the students’ behaviour.

Whenever you react to us or our expectations, it prompts a question.  It’s not the same question every time, but it might look something like this:

Meets expectations: They did what I wanted them to do (in order to facilitate growth), now what’s the next step?

Exceeds expectations: They surpassed what I expected them to do, what could I have done differently?

Fails to meet expectations: They didn’t do what I expected they could, what did I miss?

In all cases, your reaction facilitates our growth just like our expectations facilitate yours.

The gift of growth goes both ways.

But it’s not only that.  There are many students who work hard for us and give us their best every time.

There are many students who light up our room with smiles and a great attitude.

There are many students who are a great friend to others.

There are many students who make the best of their time here by taking part in school sports, events and activities.

There are many students who let us get to know them as people.

They aren’t all the same students, but the result is always the same:

Investment = Growth.

As teachers, your investment in this building is the best gift you give us because it enables us to forge relationships that encourage your positive growth as a human being.

For example, when you give everything you’ve got on an English paper, the feedback and assessment become relevant because they can improve your ability to communicate.  But, behind that, the topic of that paper is probably something that you’ve never thought about.  Maybe a human rights issue, Romeo’s inability to get (or keep) what he wants (which, in almost all cases, is love), or an introspective project about discovering who you are.

When you give everything you have to that human rights issue by doing your research, carving your commentary to be razor sharp, or exploring ideas that have previously scared you, you may begin to challenge who you really are and (maybe what you really the topic.  Or, you may even unravel things that issues that you didn’t know existed and become motivated to be a part of the solution.

Growth 🙂

If it’s Romeo’s inability to maintain a relationship, what’s getting in the way? Are you like that? Is there a cock-eyed arrogance that drives men/women away? Is your over-emotional state sabotaging your ability to date someone past three dates? Do you always take the most complicated solution, even when a mind-numbingly easy one is presented? You may learn something about yourself…

Growth 🙂

Do you have to do a multi-genre essay about various aspects of your personality? Have you ever looked that deeply into yourself before? Were you scared of what you might find? And what happened when you did find it? And then how did you reflect it best in your work? Is your fear of commitment best shown as a collage or a poem? Is your love of family an expository essay or stream of consciousness poem?

Growth 🙂

We get really invested when you invest in our work because every assignment we give you is designed to facilitate growth.  Again, that growth often comes with a mutual trust between the teacher and the student and can turn into a dialogue, which often becomes conversation, which often becomes a relationship that encourages your positive development as a human being.

If you are a student reading this and you have given a lot to the school, then thank you.  Thank you for investing in yourself and, consequently, investing in us teachers too.

If you are a student reading this and you aren’t really into school, consider giving it a second chance.  You can’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket, right?

If you were once a student and reading this, you probably made a difference in someone’s life while you were at school and you might not even know it, so thanks for that 🙂

Music Ed Monday is taking a break for the summer, so we’ll see everyone in the fall!
(though, stay tuned for VGM Wednesday and various blogs about musical adventures!)

Music Ed Monday – Before You Go…

Today is the last day of class.   So, Grade 12s, you made it.  Congratulations 🙂

This wasn’t the hardest thing you’ve had to do, but it certainly wasn’t the easiest either.  It took a lot of work – sometimes, you didn’t put in quite as much as you should, put it appears that you put in enough.  You’ve made a great start.

Mr. Brandon had some great sentiments for the last class, and I feel like I’ve shared so many hundreds of hours with you all (100 hours per course; the record is 700 hours) that I want to leave you with some things that we’ve been saying during your past three years.  You don’t have to listen/read/follow, but you can if you want 🙂

1) Be humble.

Listen to everyone you meet, treat them with respect, and let them teach you what you need.

2) Nobody cares what you can do without trying.

Or to be said another way…

3) We only expect your best.

Give it your all, then give it a little bit more.

4) The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the next best time is now.

This is a classic Brandon-ism, but it’s so good that I need to share it.  Which leads me to another…

5) It’s never too late to do the right thing.

Never, ever, ever.

6) Sometimes, it’s your fault; sometimes, it’s not, but both are okay.

As humans, we like to deflect blame.  We don’t like to be found at fault for things, whether it’s a car accident or gossipping, missing a bill payment or hurting someone’s feelings.  Some of these things may actually be your fault, so just own up to it and take responsibility, instead of making excuses.  It’s amazing what you’ll learn about yourself and how sparse those mistakes will become in your future.

7) When the caterpillar wound itself in a coccoon, it thought its world was ending… then it became a butterfly.

Sometimes, the hardest part of life is not knowing what comes next, especially when the axe is to the grindstone and you can’t see past the next paycheque, exam, or sleepless night.  But even through the fog of exhaustion or a huge life change, great things can happen and happen all the time.

Thanks for a great few years.  Be safe and do the right thing… Always.

Until then,