It’s the beginning of a new semester. A fresh start after a wonderfully relaxing summer. Last semester ended so beautifully that I wanted to carry the energy all through summer and into the fall. When momentum is rapid, and there are lots of people giving you positive feedback, it’s easy to stay enthusiastic. But when people mumble, complain and drag their feet or denigrade your ideas it can be demotivating.
Sometimes I am the one doing the mumbling, complaining and feet dragging. Because I forget. I forget the first day I walked into the financial aid office. I forget how I worked 2-3 jobs at a time just to pay rent as a student. I forget how bad my feet ached when I was a waitress. And worst of all, I forget that the whole reason for being a college professor is to make a difference in people’s lives. Sometimes, I lose sight of the big picture.
Luckily, I have good friends and Galvanized Group partners who won’t let me wallow in my misery. It was my friend Ahman who sent me the above video. A call to teachers from Elijah Miles, Bank of America Student Leader at Teach For America in Baltimore. Seeing this video seemed like a confirmation and a kick in the rear to follow through on some of the momentum and ideas that have generated over the past few years. Last semester really solidified it. College classes are a place where major life transformations can take place and I can help facilitate that or I can block it.
Based on what I’ve experienced and the information I’ve gathered so far, I decided to combine two of my passions in a way that would create a winning scenario for my students and the community at large. Music and teaching. Not just teaching facts and figures but teaching strategies for life. I teach in the Human Services department. Mental illness, trauma and addiction are major health factors and the people who need services most are the least likely to get them. Sometimes the treatment available is entirely inadequate for the patient.
A growing body of research is finding that music heals trauma for some people better than pharmaceuticals. This information might be helpful because music is easier to access than health care in the United States.
So, how do a sum all of this up? I guess what I’m trying to say is, each semester is a new opportunity to graduate. An opportunity to move from one level of knowledge to another and an opportunity to apply the knowledge to life.
The way I see it, I graduated again last June. During my full-bodied learning semester I met face to face with people, with music and with mental illness. I am in the swarm of transformation along with my students and I hope to keep it that way. And as the semester begins picking up steam, each week, I also begin anew, delivering a modified style of educating in the classroom. It’s all within the rules and regulations of the college and in fact, involves other college professionals. It is within the rules and an example of when following the rules can be awesome.