Your Students are “YOU”

Sorry for not writing for a while.  ‘Tis the season.  During the holidays, Thanksgiving / Christmas, I tend to get very busy.  With finding time with the family to getting the band / jazz band ready for concerts. 

So, what do I want to write about?  Something “band-directory.” “Band Togethery”  

Well, this will be short…

What do you do when your students are not reflecting who you are?  That sounds “band-directory.” “Band Togethery”  

I strongly believe in the Maxwell:  LAW OF THE MAGNET.  Basically, THE LAW OF THE MAGNET is another way of saying, “like begets like.”  My students will eventually be a representation of who I am.  So, when they are doing things that I would never do, I am totally shocked. 

Let me give you a couple of examples. 

Now, when I share these stories with you, I specifically do not tell you what school this is AND when it happened.  Those students reading the stories know.  I found out that I am getting more readers and those readers are  current students / families.  AGAIN, I DID NOT MENTION SCHOOL OR TIME THIS HAPPENED.  Breathe.  

I was teaching at a school that had come in last place at EVERY competition the prior year of my arrival.  It was a rough gig.  But, I am builder and I thought, “what a great challenge?”

Again, the school came in last at every competition the year prior to me being the band director .

Well, at our third competition together, I will be darned if that band wouldn’t go from WORST to first!!  However, instead of me enjoying the moment, I was in the parking lot with four students who had alcohol on the school bus.  As I am standing with these four students, I hear from the football stadium speakers, ” First place, with a score of 67.7 __________ HIGH SCHOOL!!”  Damn… Would have loved to have been there.  Oh, well… 

Being new, I had a no idea these students would be that way, but even after teaching for twenty-plus years, why should I be surprised?  Four students with alcohol were TEN PERCENT OF THE BAND!  Yes.  At the time, we had forty-two students in the band. 

So, here we are at a competition 2.5 hours away from home.  I am still learning people’s names.  I had a girl who was part of the four run out of the football stadium when the parents went to get the students who allegedly had the alcohol.  Had to go around the high school to find her.  It was terrible. 

Same job… a couple of years later.  Four band students and one color guard student caught vaping or around the person with the “e-cigarette” and then two months later, two students breaking rules during the school day.  Again, TEN PERCENT OF THE BAND suspended or given Saturday school or detention. 

Again, I am shocked.  I am thinking to myself, “What did I do?  What have I done wrong?  Why are these students not hearing my message?  Not watching me?“ 

I believe – people do what they see.  I wasn’t drinking on the job.  I wasn’t  vaping (don’t vape… I smoke cigars).  I wasn’t wearing inappropriate clothes on campus.  How come these students who I care about behaving this way?

I really have no solid answer to “why the choices” they were making. 

What do you do when your students are not an accurate representation of who you are? 

Ask them, “What did I (band director) do that you thought this (drinking or vaping or wearing in appropriate clothes) was a good choice?”  It is a very important question and point to be made.   The students do not know they represent you… Heck, they forget they represent themselves and their family!  I would be shocked if their parents teach them to drink alcohol at a school event, vape on campus or wear inappropriate clothes on campus. 

Also, remember part of our job as ADULTS and in my case their teacher, is to remind them their actions are their choices.  Their choices are who they are.  Do their choices accurately reflect who they want to be remembered being?  Some of the sarcastic / hurting students will give a silly answer.  But, when you tell them their choices are who they are… most of them will get it. 

To paraphrase Dr. Jordan Peterson, you shouldn’t allow your students to do anything that would cause you not to like them.  So, if they are breaking rules or the law, CALL THEM ON IT!  Tell your students, it hurts you (their teacher) that they would be so selfish.  Again, many of the students do not know they are part of a community.  They forget “they’re with the band.”  Your students may not even know they are representing you.  Remember:  I am sure there are teachers at your school who will say: He’s a band kid.  Or in my case, “He’s one of Everts’s kids.”  Well, really… he (student) isn’t.  My son is 25 and my daughter is 23 and frankly, I am much “harder” on them, then I am on my students.  

In the end, the students are a reflection of you.  You are responsible for their productivity.  Be tough and fair and… LOVING.  Do not spare the rod.  Be consistent with your responses to their stupidity … YES. STUPID behavior.  I know the word “stupid” is a dirty word.  And yet, no one wants to be “stupid.”  I am convinced that if we said, “Drunk Driving is stupid.  DON’T BE STUPID!”  We would see a 10% instant drop in drunk driving.  BECAUSE, NO ONE ONCE TO BE STUPID OR LABELED STUPID!  By not saying anything about their stupidity, they will just continue to do stupid things and frankly, you will own that part of their school experience.  Therefore, help them not be “stupid” by pointing out their stupid choices are hurting their relationships with many people INCLUDING THEMSELVES and help them NOT DO STUPID stuff.  Get them to be loving, caring and responsible. Coach them up.  Love them up!!  They need you! 

Isn’t that who you want to be?  LOVING. CARING. RESPONSIBLE.  Your students should be, as well.