You know how, in any career, there are defining moments that make it all worthwhile… moments that make you sit back and say to yourself, “This is why I do what I do”? Well I had a very emotional teacher moment at Summit.
There is a six-year old boy in my classroom that is non-verbal. He uses a Dynavox to request certain things and is working toward using it for communication out in the community. Most of his time is spent jumping or clapping his hands- which interferes with his ability to learn new tasks. I am told he is on medication but I do not know for what. I believe it might be his medication that makes him so jumpy, but I have to believe it might also be a side effect of his medication that sometimes he zones out like a zombie and you can’t get him to snap out of it. This little boy is, by far, one of the most beautiful kids I have ever seen. He has gorgeous eyes and the longest eyelashes! He has curly hair most women would kill for. When he smiles- peoples’ hearts melt!
Yesterday, while this student was waiting for a chance to jump on our small classroom trampoline during “motor and movement” time, I began to sing “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” to him. I had seen him watching a cartoon video on the computer earlier that day and he seemed entranced. So, in an effort to occupy him while he waited and have a bit of fun, I starting singing to him. His body calmed, and he sat still while I sang. I touched his head, shoulders, and so on as I sang the song. He stared at me with those big beautiful eyes and smiled as bright as the sun.
Then, out of nowhere, he starts to sing along. Making noises on-pitch to what I was singing, he sang along! This little boy, whose voice I had not heard in FIVE weeks of being in the classroom was SINGING! It was profound and touching. I got chills all over my body and up my spine, and my eyes started watering. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, so I called over the speech therapist in the room to witness. The little boy sang along again, and again with a bright smile! The therapist went just as nuts as I did!
This moment was many things: 1) a defining moment in my teaching career, 2) a moment of realization that what truly matters are the little things in life, 3) a lesson in not taking what we have for granted, 4) a teachable moment that reminds me to try everything in an effort to find what motivates each student, and 5) proof that music therapy works!
I, as a musician myself, have always believed very strongly in the power of music. But this moment proved to me the importance of incorporating music into my classroom! I can’t wait to have my very own classroom, and bring music into what we do as often as possible!!
I hope you enjoyed this story, because it is certainly something I will never forget… and I couldn’t wait to share it with you all!