Our traditional grading system suggests that getting straight A’s is the ultimate goal of the successful student.
We have all played the game with fervor—cramming before the final exam, spending late hours with study groups, forcing down that final cup of coffee with the test notes strategically placed beside the cup, and focusing every bit of mental, emotional, and physical energy on the cherished A that will guarantee our success as one of today’s best educators. Yet we all know this doesn’t always prove true.
Those at the top of the class don’t always prove to be the frontrunners in the profession. There are countless stories concerning the brilliant and talented college music major who found the rehearsal room to be a less-than-desirable environment, and who subsequently chose a career in a totally unrelated area. On the other hand, we well remember the student who completed all the required work, but never seemed to be on the cutting edge—and now they are responsible for a model science program that stands as an example of excellence in your region. How can this be explained?
Perhaps there is another level of getting straight A’s we often do not see. Maybe there is more to it than the memorization of material and the ability to test well. Let’s assume there are several required courses that aren’t in the catalog, but woven into the context of the learning experience. The final grades do not show up on the transcript at the end of the semester, but they are well recorded in the minds and hearts of our colleagues and friends.
How well are we doing in these tuition-free, pre—requisite for—success classes in human relations?
This core class is a must for the educator who will be working with students from different socioeconomic backgrounds or multi-religious affiliations. If members of the group have different opinions or personal tastes, this information is necessary in creating a working, productive community. The fundamental theme of “Acceptance 101” centers on the ability to withhold judgment and see all as having worth simply because they are part of the organization.
Students at any level can enroll in this class. It can be repeated for credit anytime and is often recommended as a refresher course for the aspiring graduate enrollee. The information is not particularly difficult to absorb, but it seems to be easily forgotten during the crises of everyday life. Highly recommended for anyone suffering from a cynical view of the profession. Much of the coursework requires out-of-class participation.
Although this is an upper-level offering, anyone is eligible to enroll. Formerly titled Cooperation 400, the emphasis deals with the premise that the ability to get along with others is the single most important commodity of our profession. According to some researchers, 85 percent of all problems are people related, and a greater understanding
of this will help clear up many of the daily issues caused by personality conflicts. (A prerequisite class for Profession Success—Honors Class.)
Giving credit where credit is due serves as the entire syllabus for this course and
demonstrates the positive effects of supporting the behavior of those who are contributing and showing dedication to the goal. It is suggested that you do not sign up for this offering until you have completed “Acceptance 101” and “Appreciation 100.”
The “ability to be accountable” is the sister course of “Responsibility”—“the ability to respond.” Students who complete this class will learn to avoid blame and revenge in their professional and personal lives. They will learn the art of completion. Task completion is the number one builder of positive self-image, and personal success is in direct proportion to task completion.
We might entitle that unwritten page in the catalogue “Secrets to Effective Human Relations.” The faculty members are the people whom we are with each day. Our grades are posted in the thoughts, conversations, body language, and general behavior of those around us. If we are not satisfied with the results of our efforts, it should be clear that we need to alter our contribution to the classroom of life.
When evaluating ourselves and others, let’s not forget the importance of getting straight A’s at every level. The curriculum outlined in this article is one we must study and practice every moment of every day. The agenda of self-improvement must become a habit of life. We all have so much to learn; we will be students forever. A person who does not improve is no better than someone who cannot improve.
Let’s dedicate ourselves to getting straight A’s.
This article is adapted from the book “Everyday Wisdom for Inspired Teaching” by GIA Publications, and reproduced with permission from Tim Lautzenheiser.
Tim Lautzenheiser presently serves as Vice President of Education for Conn-Selmer, Inc. His career involves ten years of successful college band directing at Northern Michigan University, the University of Missouri, and New Mexico State University. His books, produced by G.I.A. Publications, Inc., continue to be bestsellers in the educational world. He is also co-author of popular band method, Essential Elements, and is the Senior Educational Consultant for Hal Leonard, Inc.