Today we took our middle schoolers up to the Taichung campus for our annual music festival. Our version of it was nowhere near what I've witnessed back at my alma mater, but I love what we do nonetheless. All 3 of our system campuses combine music groups and put on a concert. For choir this meant 65 students squeezed onto five levels of risers. The volume instantaneously improved from my usual fare of shy singers (although I do not have a small choir), which distracted me from focusing on other things that needed improvement. I was just thinking, "Wow! They are actually loud! This is great!"
The concert was also great -- while I messed up in my conducting, everyone else did fabulous, and I was so proud. Plus it was good to hear a band again. I miss that sound--as much of a strings person that I am--band always captivates me in a different way. I really miss instrumental. Still haven't found my niche with choral yet. Sigh.
As much time as it takes, I do enjoy going on trips like these with my students. Like the 5th grade field trip, I got to see my kids outside of my classroom, and observe them a little more in this different environment. Today I realized that the less self-conscious one is in interacting with middle schoolers, the less awkward it will be. I admit I haven't gotten there yet. Maybe after I grow a few more years on me and put a little more distance in age between me and them, it will get better.
But I've also found that it's slightly easier to achieve this un-self-consciousness with boy students than girl students. Perhaps it is because the boys are either so self-conscious themselves one takes pity on them (I have a few of those, it is terribly cute, the awkward way they hold themselves as they sing), or their silliness makes it easy to forget oneself, as the attention goes to them.
Before dinner one of our biggest middle school boys came to ask us teachers a question, and he bent over nearly halfway to hear my reply. When he realized this, he laughed and said "Sorry," as if he felt it was patronizing. But in my heart I was glad, for the heart attitude that he carried was not one of indifference or carelessness, but of actually caring about another person, what they had to say, and their feelings. If all of our students come out with hearts as this, our efforts would not be wasted.
Another thing I realized today is that Taiwan actually has a lot of mountains. I've been missing Colorado and her beautiful Rockies for a long time now, but seeing the blue ridges in the distance as we hurtled up the highway on our tour-sized bus gave me a small sense of comfort this morning.