Friday, May 9, 2014

Reflections of a Young Music Educator

Good morning and happy Friday!
      Hard to believe in 11 school days I will be reaching the end of my fourth year teaching!  I'm past the point where I can go back to my old college campus and still find friends walking around the campus lawn or grabbing a cappuccino and chocolate chip banana bread in the K-dit (Wow, I really ate unhealthy things in college!).  I am also at a point, however, that I am beginning to really find myself as an educator and young adult.  I realized I am at the age where I am closer to 30 than 20, am making critical career decisions, am starting to set down roots in a community I enjoy, and am slowly settling into the adult lifestyle. 
      Maybe 26 is a little late in life to start rethinking life decisions, but I say better late than never.  I know at this time four years ago I was hurriedly panicking about finding a job, ANY job, in my field because I obviously was a failure if I didn't have employment figured out by the time I graduated in the coming weeks.
      I always wanted to be one of those teachers that found that job right out of college, made a name for myself in my field, gained the respect of my community, and stayed my entire tenure in that town.  That was not the case.  I stayed at my first job for two years and left because of both the burnout from teaching K-12 vocal 3 days a week in one district and 5th grade band in a school almost 4x the size of the first district the other two days a week as well as living over 3 hours from my hometown.  I had a handful of friends but nothing to really tie me to the area, and by golly, I missed my family.  So I took a job at my current district teaching 6-12 vocal.  I was only an hour and a half away from my family, two of my brothers were going to college only a half hour away, I got to focus my teaching skills on just one area of music instead of three...the list could have gone on forever on how perfectly I felt my life was falling into place.  Here I am again, two years later, finding out my position is being turned into a 7-12 band and choir position, and I am again trying to find employment elsewhere to avoid the burnout.  There have been a few changes in my life that have certainly gone for the better since my first job though. I AM closer to family, I live in a city where I feel I can put down some roots for a while (where my brothers also live--yay!); I have a wonderful boyfriend who keeps me grounded; I am back on stage performing again, and what a life-altering experience that has been. 
    Am I absolutely certain of where my life will lead me in the next five years? Of course not.  That's just a silly thought.  This interview next week could lead to employment for the rest of my life; I could end up using my performance degree to lead me into working at a college or singing around the world; I could end up following my boyfriend somewhere as he pursues his dreams.   I am still getting some of my proverbial cards dealt to me, and I am figuring out how to make the best with the hand I am being dealt.  I think one of the greatest pieces of advice that 26 year old me can give 22 year old me is that nothing is perfect, but if you give life the chance, it certainly gets better.  You just need to look for the positives and realize that everything happens.  Obsessing about it will not make it any better.  Thinking that not having a job by graduation will make me a failure or that I'll never get a job because all the "good ones" are taken is a load of hooey.  Everyone finds a different job to be the right job for them, and your only pseudo-real experience has been in student teaching.  You won't know what you really enjoy until you get out there any try it. 
     I know not many people follow this blog, but I hope those of you that do read this find some sort of connection with what I have just written and find a kindred spirit in me.  Remember to keep your head up and know that as an educator you are not only teaching the students but you're teaching yourself how to be the best learner in life that you can be. 
     Stay positive, my friends!

             Ms. K Schmitz

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