Man, every day can feel like sunshine and butterflies, and then somebody sends you a depressing text, or you see something derogatory on Facebook, or somebody even looks at you crosseyed, and next thing you know, you’re down in the dumps, questioning your purpose here on earth, wondering why you even try.
Do you ever feel like that? Sheesh. It happened to me just this morning. And I’m usually such a cheery person! (And the upshot of it is, the person who made me feel that way had no idea that this affected me so much – it was never her intention to bring me down, at all! It was all my own doing!).
Remember me saying that I’m such a great piano teacher? Well, usually I do feel that way, because I pour my whole heart and soul into it. But then this morning I got a cancellation from someone. (She brings 2 of her relatives with her each time – 3 lessons in one time frame). This made me sad, because I had really looked forward to seeing all of them. She said that they hadn’t practiced enough and needed another week before they came back.
Watch the thought process here…
As soon as I got this text, I immediately thought of another student whose schedule is so tight that it changes from week to week. She had recently canceled 2 whole weeks of lessons, due to things coming up and being sick once. Not that big of a deal, except she usually has 2 lessons a week.
So that then reminded me of another new student who recently told me that she preferred to have lessons every other week, so she could practice more in between. And another who had basically done the same thing.
Then I started thinking about another student, a friend, who gave up after just one lesson a few months ago. Boy, did that make me feel like a failure.
A few years ago a couple other people gave up at the beginning, too. Like the speed of light, I thought, is this a trend? Are these guys going to quit, too?
Then all kinds of other thoughts started flooding my system…Am I overwhelming my new students with new information? Will that other little girl that just started out get overwhelmed and quit?
Don’t my students enjoy the practice time I do with them, that gives most of them a half hour more of hands-on teaching than any other teacher would do?
I started feeling sorry for myself. After all, I have to clean my house, even if just one person comes. I often spend a lot of time preparing for each lesson, so they can get the best materials I can come up with. So I thought…Is all this not good enough? Why am I doing all this? Maybe it’s ME who’s not good enough!
Wait, maybe I’m underrating myself, I thought. Maybe I should be more strict. Are my students walking all over me? I never had a teacher who would let me skip a lesson unless I had a good excuse, like dying or something. Why be a teacher if I can’t depend on an income?
But…maybe I’m not even a very good teacher! Shouldn’t they WANT to come, even if they haven’t practiced enough? Don’t they like their lessons? Am I a failure?
What’s wrong here? Shouldn’t I know the answer to all these questions? SHOULD I EVEN BE A PIANO TEACHER????!
So you see, by getting just one small text, asking to be excused from a lesson, I had gone from a confident teacher to one questioning my own existence.
What I SHOULD have been doing is asking myself the following questions:
1. Have you been getting enough sleep lately?
2. Don’t you know that things always go worse when you don’t get enough sleep??
3. Honestly, ARE you a good teacher?
4. Are you a world-class teacher?
5. How do we get to be world-class in anything?
6. If you keep practicing being a piano teacher, don’t you think you’ll get better at it?
7. How could you be a better teacher?
(I could ask other teachers how they do it. I could join an organization that could help me. I could brainstorm with my students. There are many ways to become better at it).
(I’m not a failure. I shouldn’t give up. I should just get better).
I could have continued the conversation in an uplifting way…
“Okay, so now we know that you are an imperfect human being, but look what you have going for you. Be glad for what you do have. You have wonderful students that you love. You’ve been playing the piano for over 50 years. You know more than they do. Get some confidence, girl! Stand up for yourself (in a nice way), and just keep loving your students and what you’re doing. Keep improving, and they will, too. It’ll all work out! Be happy! Now get off that computer and get something done!”
There. See how easy it was? All I had to do was ask different questions, and voila! Not a failure after all. I never was!