First Year Teacher – “How to Win Friends —

| August 13, 2012 | 0 Comments

Dale Carnegie, in his book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” stressed one of the ways to win friends is to be sympathetic to other people.

That is such a true

How to Win Friends and Influence People

How to Win Friends and Influence People (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

statement. I would like to share my story with you.

My first teaching assignment as a K-6 elementary music specialist was in Mountain Home, Idaho. I had been a mother for 12 years and subbed one year, then school for three years. Discipline in a classroom was not my strong point.

The music teacher I was taking over for had been a specialist in my school for 20 years. Her husband had been a principle there at one time and together they were able to create a nice music setting with several instruments. Mrs. Hawley was forced to give up her love of teaching music due to stress effecting her vocal chords. She became a 3rd grade teacher in the building I was coming into.

Music teachers are able to work with all children in a school. There is considerable acknowledgements given when music programs are performed. The music teacher becomes important and revered. Giving up such a position and going into a classroom of only 30 students is very different in deed.

My discipline skills, use of orff instrument skills, and music organization skills were very weak my first three years of teaching. The principle was very supportive of me and told me not to be discouraged because the first three years are like student teaching as I learn the ropes and skills I need to be effective.

Half way through the 2nd month of school, Mrs. Hawley noticed I was not running my music room as effectively as she thought I should. She approached our principle and asked if she could get a substitute for her classroom, while she went into the music space and showed me how to teach better. The principle said to her, “Absolutely not. Ms. Wallis needs to find her own way and what will work best for her. She will do that with time and effort on her part. I appreciate your concern, but she will do just fine.”

My first Christmas program was fast approaching. I had never had students perform a program before and I was very nervous. We had been working on three very nice Christmas songs. It took a full half hour to practice them and make them sound good. I was proud of what the students were doing. I figured the program would be about 30 minutes long.

The program day came and we were able to practice in the gym for the evening performance. Fourth grade was the level doing the Christmas program and the other grade levels were seated and watched. It was so scarey. The three songs chose were on records and tapes so I did not need an accompanist. My knees were shaking and my arms were trembling as I conducted the students through their songs. We finished and I noticed the clock. This program was only 8 minutes long. I expected it to last 30 minutes because that is what time it took to practice. I realized then my mistake. It does take longer to work on a song than it does to sing it straight through. The next program I made sure we had about 12 songs to sing.

After the students were shown back to their classrooms and I was left by the gym doors to contemplate how I could do better, Mrs. Hawley approached me, “That was the worst program I have ever seen. Why did you not ask me for help. Here you have an expert in the building and you are not taking advantage of that fact. You need to think about that.”  She stormed off down the hall leaving me feeling horrible.

The pit in my stomach was growing and it was all I could do to fight off the tears wanting to stream down my cheeks. I slowly walked to the office and timidly knocked on the principles door. He invited me in. I leaned against the wall and allowed the tears to burst forth. He let me cry, then very fatherly said, “Teri, you are doing a very good job. I have never seen a new teacher work as hard and learn as much as you have this first semester. This is your program and you will make it work. Be patient with yourself and try not to let others intimidate you.”

My principle was so understanding. I proceeded into the spring keeping to my room and focusing on doing the best I could. All along I kept thinking what can I do to make piece with this 3rd grade teacher. I did not want enemies, yet I did not want to be taken advantage of either. I had a thought. I went to Mrs. Hawley’s classroom and entered, “Mrs. Hawley, I admire your piano playing ability. Would you be willing to accompany my next music program? The 3rd graders will be doing the spring program.”

She looked at me with amazement, not sure where to go with this. “Of course, I would be glad to accompany the students for you,” she finally replied.

Practices were challenging as Mrs. Hawley really did not play the written piano music. She improvised what she thought should be played. I worked around it and praised the students often during practice, Mrs. Hawley had a tendency to yell at the children. I thanked Mrs. Hawley every time we practiced.

Finally the evening performance arrived. I stood and acknowledged Mrs. Hawley before the program began and thanked her publicly after the program was over offering her a bouquet of flowers. She beamed. She wanted the recognition. From that moment on she was my friend and did not bother me too much. I always gave her the opportunity to accompany if she was available.

Sometimes it is not easy to get along with everyone, but if we can reach out of our comfort zone and find sympathy or learn to understand another person, we can figure out how better to live around them. We all have our different idiosyncrasies. Let’s be understanding of others.

Have a wonderful day and enjoy your workplace or place of work, whatever you do.

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Category: Self Developement and Improvement

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