I'm about to whisper something that I don't want anyone else to hear. You ready?
Sometimes a certain student will irritate me. Like, really really irritate me.
Years ago I had a student that I just couldn't quite seem to connect with each week. When she would come to her lesson, she didn't respond like my other students. My corny jokes didn't make her laugh. My sense of humor was weird to her.
And she actually had a few mannerisms that kind of bugged me, honestly. Nothing horrible, just those types of things that kind of got under my skin. In fact, there were times that I actually didn't like her (man, that's just ugly).
Only problem was . . . she was six. I was, well, NOT six. A lot older than six.
As I'm remembering this student, I am almost embarrassed to say that a six year old irritated me. C'mon, I'm the adult right? I'm the teacher?
But she did and it was what it was.
One day, though, right when she was doing something again that I couldn't stand, I had this sudden epiphany: "What if she was your daughter? How would you want her teacher to see her?"
So, I started "looking" at her differently. Instead of quirky behavior that was irritating me, I chose to remind myself that yeah, she was young. So, of course, she's going to act quirky sometimes!
Instead of seeing a little girl who just got under my skin, I chose to see a little girl who needed love and acceptance by her teacher. I knew she was coming to her lesson after a day at school where she had been teased, and here was my chance -- my half hour to bless her and love her.
I could see her like she was my own daughter. A unique individual who was just starting out in her musical studies. The tone I set for her would shape her perception of piano lessons for years and years to come.
So, I decided to see her through new eyes.
But don't get me wrong -- that's not to say that the lessons went perfectly after that.
In fact, she didn't change at all. But I did.
I stopped dreading her lesson. I stopped being relieved when it was over. I stopped letting that irritation rise.
She was someone's daughter. Someone's precious little one and I had the privilege, the opportunity to introduce her to music.
If you are struggling with one of your students, maybe even struggling with just not liking that person, I encourage you to ask yourself these two questions:
What if this was my daughter [son, brother, sister, mother, father, etc.]?
How would I want their teacher to see them?
And then see your student that way. Through eyes of appreciation and gratitude. Through eyes of patience and even love.
You see what you see. So choose well.