Friday, February 12, 2010

Enthusiasm for Learning

Note: Something a little different today, since it's Friday!

I love teaching my younger students for so many reasons, but my favorite reason is their enthusiasm.

One particular six-year-old student has so much energy and so joy. She started lessons less than a month ago, but each week, she comes bouncing in my front door, huge smile on her face.

"Oh Miss Rebecca," she says, "I couldn't practice my piano today because I had to go to dance, but guess what I did!"

"What did you do?" I ask.

"I pretended like I had a piano in front of me, and I practiced my finger numbers!"

We sit down at the piano, and she proceeds to place her red and green Twinkle Stars (used to mark C and G for "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star") on the piano. I help her fix their placement, ("Oops!" she giggles when I correct her) and she starts to play. Her performance is far from flawless, but overall she does beautifully, her confidence making up for a hesitation here and a skipped note there.

I tell her to keep practicing, and we turn the page. Her books come with a CD of all of the songs, so I stick the CD in the stereo. We sing along with one song, playing the piano as we go, then the next. Ending each song with a dramatic flair, hands in the air and an excited "hooray!" she never wants to stop.

"Let's do another song!" she says.

She's mildly disappointed when I tell her that I can't give her that many songs, but it doesn't take long for her to get right back to her cheerful state. After all, we have to work in her workbook, a prospect which greatly excites her.

As I get out the colored pencils and find the page in her workbook, she dances around the room, singing the songs and making "graceful wrist rainbows" - our topic of the day. She makes up her own songs, too. 

"One key, skip to the other!" she sings, then pauses to explain: "That helps me to remember the black keys!" Though I’m not entirely sure how it helps her, I smile and offer my encouragement.

Then, too quickly, it’s time for the lesson to end. I close her assignment notebook and pull out my sticker sheets… stars, smiley faces, tiny frogs and big sparkly frogs. She selects a red smiley face, sticks it to the front of her notebook and bounces right back out the front door, pausing for a split second to smile over her shoulder and call out, “see you next week!”

I smile as I close the door, wishing that I had half of her energy and enthusiasm.

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