Guess The Title

We have experienced our first week of SCHOOL CLOSURE due to COVID-19.  On social media, I have seen so many wonderful and loving messages from my colleagues to their students of all ages.  Heart warming.  And, yet, my experience has been very different, and I thought I would share that with you.  I do hope my Oakmont High School students will somehow see this. 

  • I love my students.

On FACEBOOK, what my teachers have said to or about their students.  Paraphrased…

  • “Hey, Guys!  I miss you so much.  Make sure you send me notes and pictures of what you are doing!” 
  • “Wow!  I was so happy I could “zoom” with my students.  Man!  I miss them.” 
  • “Today we shared pictures of our pets.  So cool.” 
  • “I don’t know what to do with myself!  I am lost without my students.”
  • “I am so stressed!  I feel so inadequate as a teacher doing this distance learning thing.  I feel like I am letting my students down.”  

On Facebook, you will not see that from me.  Why, Paul?  Because, my relationship with my students has unfortunately changed and I will not be on social media with my students.  I am more “professional” than “personal.”  Since, 2008, TWELVE YEARS, I have been “directed” to be more “professional.”  Which hurts.  I wish I could have similar messages my colleagues are sharing with and about their students. But – since 2008, when I was “directed” to teach MUSIC bell-to-bell and no sharing personal stories or stories from a book, that really limited my way to connect personally with my students.  Be grateful you are not working under the same directives.  

  • I love my students.

On Facebook, when I saw a colleague ask for pictures of his students, I cringed!  Why, Paul?  Because, I am very cautious for such a request.  I used to ask all the time.  During prom / winterball… ABSOLUTELY!  I asked this semester!  Got ONE.  In the past, I would get dozens and put them on my office wall … but, now?  When, I ask for a picture, I TAKE A RISK!  People create wild thoughts about teachers.  Teachers asking for pictures of students?  Yes.  Perception gets TWISTED! 

  • I love my students.

When I began my career, I would read stories to my students (which I have returned to doing during this school closure).  We would discuss the story.  How that story could make us better humans.  How being better humans could make us better musicians.  How better musicians make better music. Great way to connect with students and allow the students to share their ideas in a large setting.  

  • I love my students.

I have found a compromise with the storytelling.  Through the COVID-19 SCHOOL CLOSURE, beginning March 18, 2020, Monday through Friday on my podcast, I will read to the students.  Very interesting.  The first episode had over SEVENTY PLAYS!  Wooo Hooo!!  The following two episodes?  As of March 21, 2020, less than thirty for each episode.  Sad.  But very telling… Kids are not interested.  IT IS STRICTLY VOLUNTARY!!  They may not have been interested in 1989 or 1994 or 2001, but we would have great discussions. Doing the storytelling with the podcast, all the students have the freedom to listen or not listen.  If for any reason, in addition to show my LOVE for my students, sharing these stories gives me fond memories of those times.  On Thursday, I loved the response I received from one of my Galt HS school students.  On Friday, a parent complained.  

  • I love my students.

One of the hardest things for me to do is be what others want me to be.  Someone said I was a “stallion.”  I looked up what does that (“stallion”) mean?  I will take this part of the definition:  Stallion:  adult male horse that has not been castrated.  Metaphorically speaking, each time I am told to change, I feel closer to “castration.”  I am not … me.  The Oakmont High School students are not experiencing what the 1989-94 Tokay High School students experienced with me.  I KNOW THEY AREN’T.  I get incredible messages from those Tokay High School students because I WAS ME!  Their messages to me remind me to be ME.  That is powerful for me.  There are times I get depressed thinking about who I was in 1989 and who I am in 2020.  One reason is selfish.  I am not going to get those same “rich” messages from the Oakmont High School students.  

  • I love my students.

One of the most difficult things about my experience is having been at so many schools…

  • Tokay High School 1989-94
  • The York School 1994-97
  • Granite Bay High School 1997-2005
  • Galt High School 2005-08
  • Dublin High School 2008-17
  • Oakmont High School 2017 – present (same school district as GBHS)

My choice to be at so many schools?  When I resigned from Granite Bay High School, the principal… THE BEST PRINCIPAL I HAVE HAD with my current principal being damn close second… gave me a wonderful compliment.  “Paul, you are like St. Paul.  You go into a village.  Build a church.  And you leave with people wanting to cut off your head!”  ABSOLUTELY!!  Love it. I love building programs!  And it takes so much to get in that band room and start to make the changes to be what the students can be: WINNERS!  I love the challenge of being dealt the same hand and see what I / we (the students & me) can do to improve TOGETHER!  In 2017, by the third band competition with me, the Oakmont High School band won FIRST PLACE IN THEIR DIVISION!! One of the most happiest and yet, strange experiences.  It will be in CONDUCTING MY LIFE VOLUME TWO…

  • I love my students.

When what I have to give to the students is not adding value (I don’t see students improving / my message is ignored – not welcomed), it is time for me to leave.  I purposely go to places where I feel I can help grow!  Oakmont High School is that current place.  I feel that I can ADD VALUE to those students / community.  It has been quite a challenge.  I welcome it.  There have been numerous accomplishments, which I am so happy for the students.  When we return to Oakmont High School, I hope we will continue to grow.  BTW – to my friends who have been at their school for longer than ten years – CONGRATULATIONS!  Well done!!  Enjoy… 

  • I love my students. 

I do envy all of my colleagues to the point of “covet,” that I could have that same, “I miss my students” sentiment.  My colleagues are blessed beyond belief to have that feeling / relationship.  My not missing my students is because I love them differently.  I know the directives that have been given to me since 2008 have led to me NOT BEING ME; which leads to me not missing my students.  To be able to influence children / teenagers / YOUNG ADULTS — be a high school music teacher —  I have to SACRIFICE me and isn’t that was love is? Sacrifice?  Absolutely… Love is a verb.  If I had the choice of missing my students or loving them… 

  • I love my students.   

Leave Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *