The Ideal Sarah Butler

As far as I’m concerned, my teaching career started here:

A crazy, frizzy-haired, overwhelmed and excited student teacher.  I was Ms. Mowry.  I had finished school, worked my tail off in student teaching, and was ready to take on the world.

Then I became this girl:

I’d gotten the job!  I didn’t feel like I had much time to get my room together and prepare for the beginning of the school year, but I was excited.  Then I became a real first year teacher:

I taught my first semester, conducted my first concert, and it was all an overwhelming success.  I really, for the first time felt like Mrs. Butler – a real teacher.  I came back from Christmas break and felt a strange dichotomy in my life.  I still felt like Mrs. Butler – not so much of a clueless rookie anymore, but still frustrated with myself with all of the things that I simply don’t know or don’t know how to do yet.  I mentioned in my last post the following statement about myself as a teacher:

“I often talk about the disconnect between the teacher that I want to be and the teacher I am now and how frustrated I get when I see how great I can be and that I’m just not there yet, mostly from lack of experience.  This week really gave me some confidence that with experience, I can become that teacher.

I’ve done a great deal of reflecting on that statement, and what exactly it looks like to be the “ideal” Mrs. Butler, how she looks, how she acts, and who she is.  I just got back from the Oregon Music Educators’ Association conference in Eugene, OR and while I was there,  I was inspired by many teachers that I consider to be an ideal music teacher.  They have their life together, they work incredibly hard for their students, and they have so much enthusiasm for their work, it’s staggering.  After seeing so many of these educators that I want to be like, I’ve decided to make a list of everything that I want for myself as a teacher and as a person.  So here it is – the checklist of the ideal Mrs. Butler, so that I may always keep her in the forefront of my mind and strive to become her every single day.

The Ideal Sarah Butler:

  • Always eats breakfast
  • Never overindulges
  • Gets to work at 6:30am every day
  • Is at a healthy weight
  • Is organized, both at work and at home
  • Makes time for her friends, new and old, and keeps in touch with those that are far away
  • Never leaves the house with a dirty dish on the counter
  • Makes sure that each music class makes beautiful sound at least at least once per class period
  • Does sight-singing with her choirs every single day
  • Takes enough time at school to be prepared, and also spends quality time with her husband every day
  • Takes time to recover over the weekends
  • Provides her students with opportunities to play/sing outside of their school ensembles (All State, Honor Groups, etc.)
  • Knows and is known by students, other teachers, classified staff, administrators, and parents
  • Rehearses her conducting skills to make every motion in her pattern intentional and helpful for her students
  • Makes sure every single student in her program graduates with the ability to read music
  • Shows her enthusiasm every day (even if the last class was rotten)
  • Stays in touch with what’s going on with her students – the movies they watch, the music they listen to, the slang they use
  •  Is not afraid to ask her colleagues for help, even on the simplest questions
  •  Never, ever hesitates to make a stand for her program and her students’ right to have a quality education in music
  •  Says something positive every single time she cuts of a group before she allows herself to be critical
  •  Really listens to the sound her groups are producing, and doesn’t settle for “okay” tone quality

I may not have a picture to post of “The Ideal Sarah Butler” yet but as soon as I do, I’ll be sure to show you what she looks like.  I can’t wait to meet her.

2 Responses to “The Ideal Sarah Butler”
  1. Jeannette P. says:

    I love this post, because I’ve felt the same way for the past few months. Congrats on a great concert. I felt so much more confident after my first music program too. Good luck in the upcoming months. I will miss seeing you in Yakima next month.

  2. Grandma says:

    These are such worthy goals. I would suggest you select one or two each week to really focus on, although you will be aware of all of them. That way, you can be successful with fully doing the ones you have decided are most important for you that week. I’ve found if I get some things to be habitual (it often takes 30 days to form a habit), then I can take on some others more purposefully. I am so pleased that you are encompassing all that it means to be a teacher of excellence. You will get there, and you already are there in many, many ways. Many blessings!

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