I teach with some very talented people. Take the other teachers on my fourth grade team: one is a great artist, one is a pianist and singer and the other wows me at every staff meeting as she sketches boarders around her notes. And I think to myself, do their students know this about them??? Maybe they have some idea if they take the time to look around the room and notice the decor and make the connection between decoration and teacher-creator. But I have to wonder if their talents are really known…
So is true for other people in my building. Do students SEE the artwork of our art teacher often enough? Do they know that the former beloved principal was an accomplished contralto! And how many other hidden talents are there in our building? Dancers, actors, designers? As part of a loving community, we need to work on getting our talents recognized and appreciated. Not as a means of PR, but as a way to instill CULTURE into our school and community at large.
Sometimes it’s not just about showcasing student work, but the work of the adults who shape their lives!
Just this week a group of seven teachers from my district gathered together for our PLaiC (PLC focused on arts integration) meeting and created a piece of community art. When complete, we discussed ways we could use similar experiences with our students. Our piece of teacher artwork is now hanging in our school. I use it as a means to show my students that we teachers like to be creative beings too!
In the book Leadership is an Art, the author, Max De Pree told a story of a millwright who passed away, and when De Pree‘s father (the millwright’s boss at the time) went to visit the millwright’s family, his wife took out poetry to read during the visit. After reading through some poems, the wife revealed that the poetry was that of the millwright. Astonished by this realization, De Pree‘s father was left wondering, “Was he a poet who did millwright’s work, or was he a millwright who wrote poetry?” (p.6)
See the complete Millwright Story
This story was posed as a way for leaders to understand that all the people you work for and with have another dimension to themselves. That, “The art of leadership lies in polishing and liberating and enabling those gifts.” (p.8)
I agree with this whole-heartedly as a teacher who wants to find the gifts and talents of her students, but I also want to emphasize the importance of teachers being able to polish their talents as they feel liberated and enabled to use them in their teaching.
My purpose is for us as teachers not to think of ourselves as one or the other (a teacher or a talented person) but as both and let those talents show to our colleagues and students. We need to recognize our talents and use them to help ourselves be better at what we do. Maybe this should be part of our administrator’s job. I know mine strives to do this. But that is another post.
Composer in the Classroom
Debbie Ambrose who is currently teaching a fifth grade class in Newfields, New Hampshire shares her musical talents with the students in her school with composition.
One song, done while Debbie was teaching fourth grade was a culmination of a poetry unit she did with the other fourth grade class taught by Allie Bzdafka and some help from another talented colleague, Nate LaMontagne who played the guitar. Together, they wrote a poem about being in fourth grade and then turned it into a song.
(Links to these compositions no longer exist. ☹️)
Thank You Our Soldiers is another example of the work Debbie did with her fourth graders. It was written to send with supplies to soldiers overseas. They also sang it at their Memorial Day celebration. Just this week, Debbie’s school had a soldier stationed in Iraq visit them. The students sang the song to her and gave her a copy of the recording to bring back to Iraq.
Through her various teaching experiences at the Newfields Elementary school, Debbie has been able to touch the lives of many students with her musical talents.
Artist in a Traveling Global School
Dvora Geller has taught in the US, Europe, virtually and at International Schools in Zurich and Curacao. Currently, she is the math and science teacher at the THINK Global School , a high school where students and teachers travel and learn in twelve different countries over their four years.
Dvora gladly shares her talents with her students. Before she taught, she worked as a costume designer in New York. As a teacher, she has used her talents for school shows in Zurich using teachable moments to enhance her students’ experiences. Dvora is an avid knitter and has also been able to cultivate her own desire to paint taking classes as she travels and openly sharing her work with her students and colleagues.
Here is an example of her work. This work was done after listening to and being inspired by music.
There are teachers who are poets! screenwrights! dancers! writers! sculptors! athletes!
And let’s not limit ourselves to the arts.
Some of us are talented at collaborating! motivating! challenging!
(These talents happen to have skill sets related to the arts.)
I guess my position is this. No matter what your talent, share it with the ones you work with. Maybe you do so just by stating some of the things you enjoy doing, or maybe you use it as a vehicle to teach. But don’t waste it, don’t hide it!
Do something you love: make music, sing with your kids, dance, make something, go for a run – You love it? Do it!
Due: This weekend!