Flexibility at All Times

“I have one fixed and unbending principle, and that is to be flexible at all times,” quipped Senator Everett Dirksen. Teachers, administrators, and researchers all need this quality to be successful.

Ardene Shafer teaches string orchestra part-time at Holy Family Parish School in Peoria, Illinois. In the course of her career, she has encouraged many young people to enjoy music and to play beautifully. During the six years she served as the Assistant Executive Director at MENC, she was asked about her ability to multitask and to work effectively with a variety of people in many situations.

“Flexibility,”said Shafer, “is what makes us effective as human beings. It’s assured our survival as a species, and it’s an attribute of highly effective teachers.”

MENC member Gretta Sandberg directs three orchestras at McLean High School in McLean, Virginia. She contends that “no one could last 40 years in this business without being adaptable. Music is an art form where there are multiple solutions to problems. Especially when you’re working with teenagers, you want to be able to show them that they can come up with good answers to problems—sometimes better answers than yours!”

Resource for Your Students:  What skills will be needed by teachers in the coming decades? See Vision 2020: The Housewright Symposium.

—Ella Wilcox, Originally posted April 16, 2008, © National Association for Music Education (www.menc.org).