Another piece of the Jessi Leigh puzzle is that I teach. I LOVE to teach!!! I teach a class called ‘Glee’ to students aged 6-22 (split into different age groups of course!) and although primarily I teach singing and dancing, I like to think that below the surface, at the heart of what I do, I teach them how to be great people.
In an age where technology is un-escapable, I notice a great hole in the art of communication. In adults as well as children, we no longer pick up the phone to TALK to our friends and family, instead we TEXT. Now don’t get me wrong, texting is handy from time to time if you’re on the way home and need to check if we need milk, or want to send a quick I love you to someone special to let them know you are thinking of them, but as a primary form of communication, texting can be dangerous and also makes us lazy when it comes to human interaction.
I deal with all ages of children in many different aspects of my career, and it shocks and saddens me when a 17 year old young adult is not equipped with the skills to have a conversation with me about how they would like their hair cut. They grunt at their mothers from underneath their overgrown hair and expect mummy to speak to the scary hairdresser lady……….at 17!!!!!
The art of conversation is one that needs to be developed and nurtured from a young age, and in an age where the majority of our communication involves texts, pm’s, dm’s and emails, kids just aren’t learning how to TALK to one another.
In my classes, I teach CONFIDENCE. With confidence comes the ability to communicate, with communication comes HONESTY and with honesty comes a happy, healthy lifestyle.
Above a melodic singing voice, above great physical flexibility, perfect technique, or flashy acrobatic skills, my priority in my students is that they feel confident in their own skin. I strive to instil a feeling of pride within themselves in every class, and create an environment where students feel safe to ask questions, have conversation, not only with each other but with me.
This teaching gig is not just a one way street though……..I get just as much from them as they get from me. You see, a room full of 23, 6-12 year olds, don’t really care if you’ve had a bad day, nor should they, and I have found great strength in being able to put on a happy face in times of sadness in order to teach a great class. 45 minutes later, what seemed so devastating I couldn’t quite get out of bed, suddenly seems much less important when I am staring in the faces of 23 kids that have worked hard, sung their hearts out, and achieved new goals……more than that, feel proud of themselves and confident to take on new challenges.
I have SO MUCH LOVE for my students and what they have taught me about myself. I danced for most of my childhood and gave it away as an adult, for plenty of reasons, but mainly due to a dip in confidence…….through teaching them, I have rekindled my love affair with dance…….and the biggest thing I have learned, that I try to drill into them, is that to be a great performer, we don’t have to be THE BEST at EVERYTHING!! My weak spot was always elevation….I’m not a great jumper, which in turn meant a lot of the steps and turns and jumps that were focussed on when I danced, were really difficult for me……..BUT I was super flexible and animated and oozed personality when I danced, and these things are skills that other people struggle with…..we all have something DIFFERENT to be proud of, and I try to encourage my students to focus on the things they are GREAT at and not beat themselves up about the areas that still need work.
This method of teaching, has delivered me WONDERFUL results!!! I am met with determined, hardworking, excited students that are bursting with pride each week to show me the new hurdle they have overcome. Students that practice tirelessly outside of class in the playground at school, students that show up early for class every week to go over last week’s lesson, and students that stretch and practice every night at home to be able to increase their skills before their next class.
Although their ability to constantly improve their skills makes my heart sing, it’s their ability to approach me and SPEAK to me about what they have achieved that I am most thrilled with. Their lack of inhibition to TALK to me about how much they have practiced during the week, and eagerness to SHOW me their progress…….those are the moments when I know I’m doing my job!!