Do you remember your favorite Elementary School teacher?
The way they made school fun? How safe and cared for it was like to be in their classroom, occasionally even getting special treats to take home at the end of the day…
Some teachers really go the extra mile to make us feel special. And not just in a simple nice way; they’re great listeners, have great advice, and seem to know us so well!
A lot like our dance teachers.
I’ve come to appreciate two things about my dance teachers that are very similar to what I loved about my school teacher:
One: They had faith in me . No matter how I thought I failed, they never seemed to think so. They talked about what I could do to fix my mistakes, and how to stop bad habits. It never seemed to phase them when I did horribly and missed the mark I was aiming for. I remember wondering why. I remember thinking that it drove me crazy that they were never upset with me, when I knew that everything I’d done had been awful.
Two: Their life was set aside for me. Did you ever wonder as a small child if your teacher lived at your school? Like their entire life was just that classroom and the school grounds… ever get shocked by seeing your teacher in the grocery store and realizing they had a life outside of your lessons? Dance teachers are funny like that, too. Even as adults we forget that our teachers are just like us. Normal people. Regular people.
These similarities always strike a chord with me, because I love to see through other people’s eyes. I grew up to understand that the reason my 1 st grade teacher never got upset with me for being slow was that she knew the learning steps I was taking. And how what seemed as a monumental failure to me, she knew was only a drop of water in the ocean. She was drawing me up in that way, guiding me when I didn’t know where we were going.
And when I got old enough to see her as a real person and realize that there was a family and life waiting for her at the end of the day, once she had offered everything she had to teaching me… I saw how much she dedicated, and sacrificed to be there. To listen to me. To support me. To be my friend at a time in life when I had few.
Was Elementary School a drop of water in the ocean?
Yes… and No.
And when I think of it now, I have so much respect for those people who gave up so much of their lives to help me build mine.
The same could be said of our dancing. Is it the sum of our lives? Does it mean the world to us? Do we care to live without it?
And is it our teachers who make it so.
They, too, are putting their lives to the side to teach us. To focus on us. To be there for us.
The only difference is that I never was able to tell my 1 st grade teacher that everything she did for me was so powerful and made such an impact.
I’m so glad that I get to be on even ground with my teachers these days, so that I can tell them what their time means to me.
I can stand next to them in life and know that we both go to the grocery store, fill our cars with gas and do our laundry whenever we can. And I can appreciate that they care enough about my lessons to put so much prep-time towards them, so much thought on my goals and the dancer I want to become to plan those steps that I will fumble up and never get mad at me . Because they know each step is just one drop of water.
I can thank them for that.