PNG image-ACA60C3A3166-1

I’ll have it all figured out when…..

Susan Collins Education, Uncategorized

SHARE THIS STORY: Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+

I have completed the first couple of weeks of the 21-22 school year as I write this. It has been everything that the beginning of school should be: exhausting and chaotic in all of the most familiar ways.

We are far from living in a “post-pandemic” world, but at least things look more familiar than this time a year ago.

I spent my summer break thinking about scheduling performances, arranging my classroom, and learning a new way of long-term planning. Will all of this become a reality in the months ahead? I don’t know. I’ll remain flexible and open to any possibility. After all, this is only a PLAN.

I am at the beginning of my 30th year of teaching. Early in my career, I thought people who had been teaching this long had everything figured out.


No one has teaching figured out!

As lifelong learners, we are constantly striving to learn new strategies, keep up with the latest “new” thing that kids are into, and adapt to the mandates and changes implemented by our school/district/state. The most significant difference between the veteran teacher and the novice teacher is perspective.

As a veteran teacher, I know there are going to be new challenges every year. There are going to be policies or projects that I will have to adapt to. Some I will embrace, some I will be reluctant to embrace. I have learned to focus on what is most important in my classroom and not sweat the small stuff. As an elementary music educator, my main focus is to create joyful music experiences that foster heavy academic music literacy and enhance cognitive processes. When I live into that statement, any mandate, program, policy, or pandemic is manageable.

Artie Almeida is well known in general music circles. She is a fantastic educator, musician, clinician, and composer. I have attended many clinics that she has facilitated and use several of her publications in my lesson planning. She has a saying that encompasses much of what we face as we dive into a new school year with new challenges.

It’s not hard, It’s just new.

Thanks, Artie, for encapsulating this journey in a straightforward statement!


Susan Collins began her teaching career in 1991 in rural Mississippi. She served in 4 different communities in central and north Mississippi as a music educator, mostly elementary general music with one year as a middle school band director. She stepped out of working full-time in the classroom for 9 years when her children were very young but never left teaching. She set up an early childhood music studio and taught music from birth to age 5 (with an adult caregiver). Susan moved to Kingman in northwest rural Arizona in 2016 where she teaches k-5 general music. Susan achieved National Board Certification in the fall of 2016, just after moving to Arizona. She has served as a 2017-18 Arizona Hope Street Group Teacher Fellow and a Candidate Support Provider for National Board Candidates. She is passionate about advocating for the needs of rural schools and ensuring that every student receives an excellent education. When she is not teaching, advocating, or writing about education issues, she is outdoors hiking, reading, and going to musical performances. She can often be found off the grid pondering her next writing piece!

Comments 2

  1. Nicole Wolff

    I feel all of this! It doesn’t matter how extensive our expertise, we never have it all figured out. The last two school years, I have felt like a new teacher all over again. But, you’re right, our experience provides us the benefit of perspective. We will navigate the challenges and changes of this year and carry on.

  2. Caitlin Gawlowski

    I love the perspective “It’s not hard. It’s just new.”! I am in my 10th year of teaching, and I agree that perspective is a huge difference between new and veteran educators. There are always challenges in every school year, and new and veteran educators alike always adapt and figure out ways to reach their students. I don’t think it’s easy, but maybe that is what it looks like from the perspective of a new teacher. What a great way to approach this year!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *