A recent NPR report stated "Loneliness isn't just a fleeting feeling, leaving us sad for a few hours to a few days. Research in recent years suggests that for many people, loneliness is more like a chronic ache, affecting their daily lives and sense of well-being."
About half of all Americans report being lonely. And, as NPR reports, young professionals and teens bear the heaviest burden.
This is another example of how the internet has turned our professional and personal worlds upside-down. We're more networked than ever, and yet appear more alone than ever. A recent study by Cigna Health, using the UCLA Loneliness Scale, showed that more than half of survey respondents — 54 percent — said they always or sometimes feel that no one knows them well. Fifty-six percent reported they sometimes or always felt that the people around them "are not necessarily with them." And two in five felt that "they lack companionship," that their "relationships aren't meaningful," and that they "are isolated from others.”
As a profession, music educators can be among the most isolated teachers in their school communities. It’s not on purpose, but it might be by design. We teach a curricula (music) which few understand, and often teach in secluded/separated facility away from our non-musical peers. We rise before dawn and rehearse well into the night, making it difficult to unplug, unwind, and nurture relationships outside of our jobs. Our lunch breaks are twenty-two minutes and our departments are the smallest on campus. We are separated from district or community peers by physical geography and space.
Yes, being a music teacher can be a very lonely existence. But it doesn’t HAVE to be.
I have, in the past, used this e-zine to discuss the problem of professional isolation, but now I am going to use it to help solve the problem.
As as part of Teacher Appreciation Week, my team has created a way in which you can reach out and connect with a colleague and tell them how much you appreciate them. The button below will take you to a landing page where you can send a colleague a note of support and tell them what you appreciate about them. All you have to do is enter their name, email address, and a brief note about what you appreciate about them. We (and the magic of the inter-webs) will do the rest and deliver it for you!
Not sure who to send a note to? What about your colleagues (musical & non-musical), administrators, custodians, grounds keepers, school secretary, private lesson teacher, feeder teacher, music store reps, marching staff, booster officers, MEA officers, etc? The list is as long as your creativity and generosity is willing to make it. Come on! Get creative and share some love!
We are asking you to take five minutes to make five peoples day! It will not only make our profession a a little less lonely it will make their world a little more lovely.
It's Teacher Appreciation Week, so take five minutes to appreciate five people!