7 C’s Students Deserve from Teachers

By John Gardner

7 C’s Students Deserve from Teachers has nothing to do with mediocre grades.

Students are worth fighting (advocating) for and deserve teachers who CAN (proficient, competent), who CARE (compassionate, empathetic), who CONNECT (communicate with, not at), who COLLABORATE and COMMUNICATE with colleagues and parents, who COORDINATE all that goes into providing an organized, informed and inspiring atmosphere,  and who CHALLENGE what constricts their enthusiasm. I want to be one of those.
John Gardner

I used a portion of the above as a facebook status and received a significant response from students, parents and others. One assumed I had just returned from a professional seminar…I took that as a compliment.

Have you ever heard comments like these from students? I have.

He is a terrible teacher. He can’t do anything outside his teacher textbook or PowerPoint presentation that he got from the textbook website. 

If I am going to learn this, I’m going to have to do it myself.

I used to like [insert subject]. 

She doesn’t care about me, doesn’t know who I am or anything about me and probably doesn’t even know my name….’cause she never calls me by name.

That was probably up to date information a decade ago.

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Digitizing Media as a Profit Center
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Students deserve teachers who CAN. In a music setting, students deserve teachers who are proficient musicians. Whether you call it modeling or some other name, they need to know that you know what you’re talking about. Vocal students probably get to hear their choir teacher sing more often than instrumental students hear the teacher play or perform on their main instrument.

I was working with a group of freshmen students on a combination of scale, finger technique and breathing skills by playing a scale multiple times on one breath.  At one point, a clarinet student interrupted me with, “C’mon, these instruments can’t go any faster than that.” I got my clarinet out and zipped through a 3-octave chromatic scale multiple times in a breath. The next question; “How did you do that?”

That provided an amazing teaching moment.

Students deserve teachers who CARE. Yes, there are lines, boundaries and appropriate behaviors and otherwise…but one of the problems with teens is that they feel they are nothing more than educational fodder into which we professionals are to dump vast amounts of useless (their perception) information.

At what age are students no longer touchable or hug-able? I have had students in my office (even on the side of the marching rehearsal field) break down with emotion as they tell me about heavy duty drama at home, with job, boy/girl friend, or when they can’t get that marching set or flag toss. I don’t make a habit of hugging everybody (and shouldn’t), opting more often for high fives, hand shakes and shoulder taps….but sometimes ….sometimes, that student, boy or girl, needs a hug or an arm around the back onto a shoulder. Sometimes a proper touch is a powerful force for which there is no equal substitute.

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“Moneytizing the Band Blog”
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Students deserve teachers who CONNECT. It is difficult to connect with a student unless they perceive that you know your stuff and that you care about them as an individual.

He talks at me, not with me.

She’s up there and I’m down here.

My grandma/grandpa died, but if I cry in class I’ll be in trouble.

I got this in a thank you note following a graduation open house visit:

Thanks for being there for me during my troubled teenage years. When family and parents are so totally dysfunctional, it is good to know that I could go to someone and share my burden and get encouragement and advice. I don’t know why (well, yes I kinda do) so many teachers are afraid of students…. but thanks for not being one of them.

Students deserve teachers who COLLABORATE and COMMUNICATE with other teachers, parents, and others on their behalf. Have you ever had a student who is stressed about another class because he/she is convinced the teacher has mis-understood (or mis-judged) him and is afraid to say anything….and you help out? Or how about a student who has zero support from home and trying to get through the FAFSA/Financial Aid jungle alone….and you help or make a call to the college FinAid department? Or what about students applying for jobs and scholarships. Do you make a call or write a letter on her behalf?

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Simple Goals
“S-Steps To Success”
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Students deserve teachers who plan, organize and COORDINATE all that goes into providing an organized, informed and inspiring atmosphere. The student’s locker and probably their home bedroom are likely disaster areas. Their home life might be a total wreck. They deserve structure and to know that they are important enough that you have spent some time getting ready for them. Some teachers may think they can “wing it”, but students can detect that. When they want improvisation, they will go to a jazz/rock concert. They need structured freedom to explore and learn, not disorganized chaos.

Students deserve teachers who will CHALLENGE what constricts them. 

It was about one of my own sons that I sat several years ago in a middle school principal’s office enduring a fist banging on the desk accusation of “pushing” my kid. 

My response as a parent, and now as a teacher, is to prevent walls from being erected in the path of student progress.

7 C's Gardner Quote

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Thanks for reading,
John Gardner

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15 yrs experience as a high school band director. 14 yrs as college adjunct faculty. 30+ yrs in the fundraising industry and 24 yrs as a small business owner. (Don't add all those up.). Experience in both the fundraising sales and education worlds give me a unique combination of perspectives in both. I love working with the youthful enthusiasm of today's teenage achievers and with those who work with them.Also 4yrs as proprietor of VirtualMusicOffice.com, which offers a wide variety of virtual services including web/blog design/hosting/managing, social media management (scheduling posts/tweets for maximum impact and brand enhancement) and small business consulting - specializing in school product fundraising.

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