Teaching Like a Hound Dog
Wednesday night, late Fall in Kendall County Texas and there is a chill in the air. The leaves are burning next door while the hounds bark at smoke rings, and yes the great horned owls are calling. Howdy to you, you fine folks tuning in, checking in or simply passing through. Tonight is a quiet night in the Little Orange House Concert Hall ha. Family is sleeping, dogs are snoring and I to will soon hit the hay. But before Mr Sand Man comes I feel the need to write and share, or to vent and process. The format of 'When It Breaks' allows a release similar to writing and performing music, creating a much needed channel to unfurl the burdens. Oh the mighty burdens of special education within public education friends.
Once again it is evident that the need is GREAT but the resources limited and oh so small. Sadly this is no surprise. A statement was made during filming with Todd & Milk Products Media that a teacher is like a lion tamer or tiger trainer, you're going to get bit like it or not. The biting is the systems failure. The biting has nothing to do with the child but everything to do with the programing, staffing and funding challenges. Yes there're resources, and yes there is technology, and yes there's so much work and effort happening but .....woooooshhhh....the need is so much greater. But there is hope:)
Being back in the classroom since the mighty year long adventure with family, dogs, music and RV-dum is quite the transition as you can imagine HA! No more going to work from 7 PM to 2 AM. No more drive, drive, pick, camp, drive, drive, pick, camp, camp, pick. Rather its wake up at 5:30 in the morning, get home 6 PM and do it all over five days a week. It's work on the house, build a small porch/stage, repair a fence, chase a loose dog down the street while yelling at your 8 yr old to go back to the house and "PUT ON SOME PANTS!!" ha ha ha. Life is different but life is good.
I know why I love teaching. I know I want to be in the classroom more than going back on the road. As a musician/special education advocate we were able to share our concerns and questions with our audience. As a teacher I can apply my talents to children in need of services. I can assist them with concerns and questions pertaining to safety, happiness and academics.
As a musician we were allowed the freedom of travel, to camp weekly, to set our own schedule. As a teacher I am fixed to a routine. I'm in the same building and room 186 days out of the year. Sometimes a 9, 10, 11 plus hour day Monday through Friday, week after week after week after.... cough.... choke.... week har har har. That chunk of the day is set in stone, yet that stone allows me to see my sons in school as they both attend where I teach. That stone allows me to build friendships and community with passionate, committed teachers. That stone brings stories, successes and emotion that every teacher can relate to and cherish.
As a musician our income was nearly 3 times that of our present salary. It allowed us to buy luxuries like a rug ha ha ha from Home Depot even. On a teacher's earnings rugs are a special treat y'all ha ha ha. Yes on a teacher's income you're limited. You must live within that budget. But as I focus again on teaching that allows Jenny to create her painting and her opportunity in art; which in turn helps with income etc. etc. There is always an answer to the struggles of what teaching services and/or provides. The problem is sometimes we don't always have the POWER to implement the answers.
I know that I once said during the trip and filming last year that in order to succeed in teaching within Special Education you may very well have to become apathetic, caring less about the student's needs as the solutions are slim. I thought that may harden the exterior so the frustrations of inefficient services cannot blacken the heart and head. Well it's impossible ha there's no freaken way to NOT care a crap load about your students and their problems. There's no FREAKEN way to not bring your work home with you as it sits there in your head, lingering until 3 in the morning "How can I help that kid control such behavior?", "Did I get the ARD scheduled on time?", "Is that IEP up to date and did I really spill pickle juice on the final draft?". To be effective the caring can't stop. You got to have a freaken heart that loves and can also shovel the crap out so more love can flow. You have to have a heart built to tolerate pain while pushing forward with solutions. You CAN'T have a heart that stops and becomes numb to the ineffectiveness of the system. It's a Big Mama Thornton heart that beats and howls and shakes and rattles like the "Hound Dog" she sings about.
I believe and know, now more than ever, that we must work within the classroom in teaching acceptance, forgiveness, compassion, empathy and a hunger to enjoy learning. I know that when I step into that classroom I bring with me a spirit that cries out for CHANGE. We are trying to teach in a manner that changes intolerance, that CHANGES neglect and abuse, that CHANGES indifference to a marginalized community based on language, social class, race or ability. Yes I believe that this is the role of a teacher. Yes I believe you whom are reading this can be an excellent teacher, SO TEACH "PLEASE GO FORTH AND TEACH!" ha ha ha.
Music is an accompaniment to life I think friends. Teaching is living within the pulse of constant growth and adversity. As a family we will travel and play from time to time. I'll have my weekend shows now and again and sometimes a small summer run here and there, but teaching is where it's at brothers and sisters. Cheers folks and all the best. We hope to see you on the road, in the classroom or here at the Little Orange House Concert Hall ha ha; doors open at 7, show starts at 9.
Sincerely - Konrad and Family