New Jersey has its share of iconic lead singers. Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi are just two of our famous front men. Whitney Houston, Frank Sinatra, George Clinton—we can go down the list.
What makes these singers and songwriters special is that their lyrics speak to us on some level. We can relate to them. Music recalls moments in life. We all know where we were when we first heard “Livin’ on a Prayer.” I’d tell you where I was, but telling you I owned the album on tape should be enough to date myself.
Music is a powerful form of communication and expression. We use it to form rally cries, make meaning, and drive conversation. Music can hurt and heal. What happens though, when the music stops, changes, or loses its meaning and appeal? What happens when we outgrow our playlist?
As educators, we need to be cognizant of similar changes in our practice. If our heart’s not in it for some reason, it’s a detriment to ourselves and those around us to keep putting out music we don’t believe in.
That’s why the learning teachers do in the summer is so important. During the school year, teachers don’t have the option to hole up into their classrooms and refine a lesson for an infinite amount of time. They’re on call, and on duty, because that’s what every student deserves.
The summer offers opportunities for educators to connect with each other and recharge as professionals. When the best musicians collaborate, they produce something greater than they could alone. The same is true of teachers.
That’s where the power of relationships comes into play. It’s the investment in each educator’s relationship with one another that support the positive personal and professional forward movement of the field as a whole.
The movement that has empowered, rejuvenated, and taught me about the importance of fellowship is ECET2. The acronym stands for Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teachers and Teaching, but the words stand for so much more.
This month I will travel to Seattle for an ECET2 national conference. These events provide a space for teachers to come together, learn from one another, form relationships in a positive space, and take it back with them when they leave. Some of my closest friends in education were borne out of attending and presenting at two national ECET2’s, and building and hosting one in New Jersey.
I connect daily with my ECET2 edufriends through social media and tech tools. We co-write blogs and articles, co-present, and collaborate on lesson plans when we’re studying similar topics. We plan family vacations, go to baseball games, and sing karaoke together. Sometimes badly.
Armed with these relationships, we always return to our classrooms to serve as front men, and write the next hit song. Even if it’s for someone else. Because, while we change and evolve, our reason for why we got into education never changes.
That’s something I am sure Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, and the icons of New Jersey’s music scene can agree on.
Barry Saide is a member of NJ ECET2 and a fifth grade teacher at Mount Prospect School in Bernards Township, New Jersey.