In a recent SLAM group coaching session, Bryan Christian shared thoughts about pedagogical excellence and a caring culture. When building a caring culture, it is so important for us to be authentic to our kids and parents. Being someone else or portraying a façade is unauthentic. It is like telling a lie. We know that telling the truth is best. Besides, telling lies is scary because you don't know who you've told what and you just get trapped.
Be authentic! Be yourself and admit your wrongdoings. You are human. If you have done something in public that was wrong like hurting a kid's feelings in front of everybody…apologize in public. The public apology models servant leadership for your students. Be transparent because leaders make mistakes too. Remember, if you've hurt someone privately, pull them into the office and apologize and be sincere. Importantly, sometimes both a private and public apology are needed. We've all messed up and said something that hurt a friend. I've even said things that have hurt or embarrassed a student during a rehearsal. Maybe you have as well. I remember vividly a time when I went to the student’s house and I said, “Mrs. Jones, may I visit with you and your daughter for a few minutes?” I confessed that I said something in class and “I know it must have hurt your feelings. I did not mean to do that. I just screwed up, I’m sorry.” The parents were like, “Wow, that was pretty cool for you to come over to my house and apologize to my kid.” Later, at the next rehearsal, I apologized publicly as well.
As a teacher and leader, I wish I hadn't made that mistake, but we are human, and we make mistakes. I have also visited students in the hospital many times and found it really makes a difference on the kid and the parents. Unfortunately, I have visited families who have lost a close family member. One of my sophomores experienced a tragic loss last summer as her mom took her own life. My wife made some pumpkin bread that I shared as I spent some time with the student, her brother, father, and grandmother. As band, chorus, and orchestra teachers, we live a demanding, time consuming, stressful life. Yet, as servant leaders, we are reminded that we are in the music AND people business. At this stage of my career, I can tell you it's worth repairing bridges and being authentic to create long lasting relationships to make a difference in your community.