Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!
Each and every year, a week in May is set aside to show thankfulness and appreciation for all educators across the country. As music educators, this is the time of year where many people think we are winding down for the school year as we head towards summer vacation. We, of course, know that’s quite the opposite – that while other teachers may be winding down, we are merely transitioning from one school year to the other… especially those of us involved in the marching arts.
Band directors are in the process of finishing up the festival and music performance assessment season, drama club and musical theater performances are near completion, and we are preparing for our spring concerts and Memorial Day observance performances. Additionally, we are recruiting for our summer and fall band ensembles; planning and writing marching band shows; getting paperwork done for budget, transportation, and marching circuits; figuring out summer fundraisers to pay for guard uniforms and equipment… Whew!
This time of year can be very physically and emotionally draining. Then we have our end-of-the-year banquets and although we never expect to be recognized for our work, our band kids (usually our seniors) pay tribute to our hard work over the course of the year and their band career. We are reminded about how worthwhile our work has been when we hear how we may have influenced or impacted their lives. We gain a second wind, ready to face the challenges of the new year that lies ahead.
All that is great and wonderful, and I can certainly name a great many educators that have influenced me both personally and professionally; and I have always been sure to thank them for all they have done for me over the years. However, there is a group of educators that I do not believe receive enough credit for all they do in the world of the marching and pageantry arts.
Think about it. When was the last time your fundamentals instructor was recognized by the either you or your students for all the work they do for your program? What about your head band dad that works side by side with your managers teaching them how to use tools and to pack luggage and equipment? Or the band mom that teaches them how to properly clean the Gatorade jug so mold doesn’t grow in it? What about your woodwind, brass, or percussion techs? Guard and dance instructors? Bus and equipment drivers? Boosters?
Let’s face it. A good majority of the time, these staff members, who are very much educators in the world of the marching arts, quietly take their check at the end of band camp or the end of the season (if your band is blessed enough to afford monetary gifts for staff) and go home, waiting for you to call them back for the following season. Do we or the students ever think about the sacrifices they make to work with the students?
These staff members are often volunteers who take personal vacation time and adjust their work schedules to be able to work with your band and your students. They probably spend more money in gas and concession stand food that what they earn actually working with the band. They may even lose money if they do not have vacation time or have to use day care or babysitters.
Additionally, they spend so much more time individually educating our band members while we are busy with the day to day operations of the band. They usually are out there putting out fires before we even see the smoke. They fix things before we know they are broken. They purchase things with their own money that we didn’t even realize we needed. They often know more about the students than we do. They really are our front-line soldiers out on the battlegrounds we call the football field.
I’d like to encourage you to take a moment to reflect upon the educators you work with during the fall outdoor or winter indoor seasons. Take a moment during this week to thank them for all their hard work and dedication to the students in your program and for their sacrifices during the season. They are the unsung heroes of the marching arts. Also, during band camp and the marching season, a donut and cup of coffee for those early mornings go a long way in saying, “Thank You!”
Join the discussion! Please don’t be afraid to comment to this post or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear some stories of how you or your students have shown appreciation to your fall or winter ensemble staff members!
Blessings to you all!
Ten-Hut Productions LLC