Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Get Real

Wow! Spring break has come and gone. As is the case with most school breaks, I had a list of things that I had planned to accomplish. Sunday night as I pondered that list I was first struck with all the things that I never even thought about during the very short week of spring break; then I saw the last item, "Get real!" I skipped ten or twelve things that comprised the bulk of my list and decided that I could muster the energy to do this one last thing before starting the work grind again and I got real. This list was unrealistic. No human being could have possibly accomplished all that had made its way onto the spring break to-do list. But, I could get real. I realized that what I did get done was an accomplishment and what I didn't will wait. This realization made going back to school yesterday a little more palatable.

The first day back was much better than I had anticipated. I didn't expect much because I wasn't ready to go back - not ready emotionally and, frankly, not ready literally. I had done no class preparation during my week off. Fortunately during my first class at 8 am I had some material that we had not gotten through before the break so we were good to go. One down, three to go. In the next class, my syllabus said that I was going to lecture on a new topic. Whew! That's easy. Lecturing is a piece of cake. As it turned out, we had a great discussion. We started with the topic of the day but quickly migrated to the past and the future and dreams and fears and favorite music and life stories and alarm clocks that had not been used (or reset) since before the time changed last weekend. I was energized. My students were energized. Learning happened. It may not have been about the advertised subject, but nonetheless, minds were expanded. Isn't that what education is all about?

In my next class we analyzed Bela Bartok. We also compared his works to some of the poetry of William Blake. Again, minds were expanded . . .as were correlations and what "get real" truly means.

My teaching day ended with a composition student. She is a non-traditional student who has set some lofty goals for herself. Last year when she first embarked on the composition challenge that she set for herself, my advice to her could have easily been "get real". Now it is "you go girl!" We have worked together to complete a piece to be entered in a contest whose deadline is fast approaching. In fact, it is approaching so quickly that I should probably be putting the final touches on the score rather than writing this. Oh well . . .It will get it done.

In appreciation for the work that I have done for her, she gave me a ceramic candle holder that she made, complete with a battery operated tea light. Included was a wonderful card expressing her gratitude. Oh, and a piece of chocolate.

Yesterday, a day that I had little hope for when the alarm went off at 5 am turned out to be a great day. Perhaps the moral of this story is when your list of expectations goes unmet, jump to the end of the list and "get real". When we look at the real rather than the ideal, there are always glimpses of beauty and grace to be seen.

Don't get mad - or frustrated, or angry, or depressed - get real!