Me: On Friday, I'm not going to be here. I'm going to be at a music teacher conference. Basically a whole bunch of music teachers get together and talk about teaching music.
8th Grader: Really, are you joking? Do people really do this? Do you enjoy this kind of thing?
Me: Well, yeah . . . kind of.
Music teachers conventions have always been an interesting experience. At times they have been inspiring, other times they are boring and sometimes they are just . . . well, kind of surreal.
When I was a in college studying to be a music teacher, conferences were really exciting. They were these magical places where all of these amazing ideas about education and music were in the air. Legends in the field came to life and these experiences made me feel excited to be part of a larger music education community.
Then I got my first job and went as a teacher. We had a lot of students from our school who were featured in the ensembles so we went down as a music staff. I walked around the conference connected to an amazing program with fantastic students. I had a place in this world.
Then I was let go from that job.
I was working as an assistant teacher and while I wasn't ashamed of this job, something felt off when I thought about being in a large group of music teachers.
After being away from a music education conference I suggested that our music department go to our state music education conference. It seemed like the right time to return and I figured it couldn't hurt to jump back into the professional music teacher community.
I'm no longer a college student, I'm not part of a school with a famous music department, instead I'm an experience professional here to gather new ideas about teaching. I don't feel sure of my place in this community, but I know where I am in my career and I'm beginning to feel better about these events.
In the same way that I'm still getting used to the idea of being a 30 year old and being an adult, I still feel like a rookie teacher. No, I'm not a master teacher but I've been at this for seven years and I have a pretty good idea what I'm doing.
Moving through my career as a teacher has been a journey. I'm not sure why this whole conference experience is unnerving. Maybe it's because of my insecurities about my skills as a teacher or maybe it's something deeper that I have yet to unpack. One day I'll figure myself out and feel a little bit more settled as an experienced teacher.
And if I don't get there after a couple decades of great teaching, it might not be such a bad thing.