A Day In The Life

Getting To The Point
October 4, 2007, 8:56 pm
Filed under: School Buzz

One of the most difficult parts of my job involves making choices.  At the elementary level, the school year begins with honor choir auditions.  So many children want to be in one of the three grade-level honor choirs at my school.  I listen to hundreds of little voices yearning to be selected.  Then I have to choose.  My fourth and fifth grade choirs have 40 members each and the third grade choir has 30 singers. 

As if I haven’t broken enough little hearts, I then have to audition third graders for singing and speaking parts in the third grade musical.  So I listen to approximately a hundred more children acting and singing for all they are worth.  Then I have to choose. 

This year one of the teachers in the elementary building has a daughter in the third grade.  The little girl frequently visits my room after school is out while she is waiting for her mother to finish up for the day.  The child, who I’ll call Suzy, loves to straighten my desk, dust shelves and perform other tasks that are easy for a third grader to accomplish.   Suzy made the cut and is a member of the third grade honor choir.  She auditioned for the lead female role in the third grade musical, but she didn’t get the part.

On the day that the third grade musical cast was posted, Suzy showed up in my room after school.  Somehow I just knew that she would.  She emptied both of the pencil sharpeners and began straightening things on my work table.  “Will the students who didn’t get speaking parts still get to wear costumes in the musical?,” Suzy asked.  “Yes,” I replied.  “Remember that each classroom is going to dress up like a jungle animal so every student will be in a costume.  Isn’t your class supposed to be monkeys?”  A smile of remembrance briefly flashed across Suzy’s face as she began to dust the table tops.  Several minutes passed as we quietly worked together.  “Why didn’t I get a speaking part?,” Suzy softly inquired.  I smiled to myself because I knew we had finally reached the true point of this afternoon’s visit.  “Oh, Suzy,” I said, “Remember I told all of you that more children auditioned for that part than for any other part in the musical.   And I could only choose one person.  But you still have a very important part, you are one of the singers!  The singers are the most important people in the musical because what would a musical be without the singers?!!”  Suzy nodded her little head in agreement.  “And don’t forget,” I added, “that many good singers didn’t make it into the honors choir, but you did.  I like to give some of those children who didn’t make choir speaking parts because they need to feel special, too.”  Suzy seemed quite satisfied with what I had said as she skipped beside me down the hall toward her mother’s classroom. 

The next day I had a visit from Suzy’s mother.  “Please be honest with me,” Mrs. Suzy pleaded.  “Did my daughter come to your room and ask you why she didn’t get a speaking part in the musical?”  “Yes, she did,” I replied.  “Oh, gosh, I am so sorry.  Suzy knows better than to do something like that.”  Mrs. Suzy blushed with embarrassment.  I quickly reassured her that I didn’t mind at all.  I told her the whole story of how Suzy worked into asking that most important question.  Mrs. Suzy laughed then told me how Suzy had seemed fairly nonchalant about not getting a speaking part the afternoon that Suzy and I had had our conversation.  But the next morning, Suzy began talking to her mom as they were getting ready for school.  “You know, Mom,” Suzy said, “I was sad that I didn’t get a speaking part, but I’m in the choir.  A lot of good singers didn’t get in choir so they had to have speaking parts so they would feel special, too.”  Mrs. Suzy told me  she knew the instant those words came out of her daughter’s mouth that Suzy had asked me about the speaking part. 

As for me, I was so pleased that Suzy took what I told her to heart and didn’t simply chalk it up as another adult lame excuse.   So many children and parents become confrontational and ugly over the choices I’m forced to make.  They have no idea how much I agonize over decisions regarding my students.  And, trust me…..I do agonize because I know how it feels to not get that part that you know you’re perfect for.  Learning how to accept defeat is just as important a life lesson as winning.  In fact, it may be even more important. 


11 Comments so far
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decisions decisions…. would be most difficult for me. Unless I could hide behind a mask.

Comment by Pamela

Boy, can I relate to the last paragraph. I coached junior baseball (at a regional level) for quite a few years. It was dealing with the parents that ultimately made me give it away.

Comment by Willowtree

I love how you still made that little girl feel special. And now she also has a tool to help her deal with let downs for the rest of her life.

Comment by Susan

good story!

I envy your job and talents but I do not envy this part of it. Talk about TOUGH!

You could not have handled that situation ANY better. Kudos!

oh dear, that last paragraph about angry parents is awful. I see it all the time in my 13 yo’s sports and academics endeavors. Sad isnt it?

Comment by barngoddess

Good post. You really have to be able to think on your feet when dealing with children, don’t you?

Comment by Betty

Yeah – I know what you have been through! Good to know that there is at least one reasonable parent and child out there, and glad to hear one of your “happy” teaching stories, even though I know you hate to break hearts….

Comment by Tiggerlane

Great post –

As a parent we forget that the teacher has a tough time too deciding!

Comment by Karmyn R

You are a good teacher, songbird. You are the kind of teacher that makes a student aspire to your profession. I think it is your heart.

Comment by gawilli

I’ve never thought of how hard it must be to be the teacher or coach or whatever job it is and have to make decisions like that.

It’s just incredible to me that I’ve never even considered stuff like that in my life.

Thanks for sharing part of your life here.


~ RS ~

Comment by RubyShooZ

What beautiful words for a little girl to hear. I don’t envy your job for having to make those kind of decisions.

I love this story! Thank you for sharing. 🙂

Comment by Debbie

Great to see your wonderful memories!!!

Comment by Devon

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