The Conductor’s a Dancer: The Teacher’s an Artist

I had a great conversation at the local coffee shop with the owner, who is an amazing professional dancer. We were talking about the beauty of dance and he made a comment that so interested me.

He said,

“Dancing with a live orchestra is one of the greatest thrills of my life. What most people don't realize is that the conductor watches the dancers and conducts the music to synchronize with the dance. The conductor is a dancer. Just as much a dancer as those on the stage.”


It struck me and I thought of my favorite scene of my life from the nutcracker as performed by the Bolshoi Ballet (I love the part where the lead just floats across the stage as her partner guides her! Gives me chills!)

Then, I thought of the duplicity of roles in my own life.

The teacher is a student. Part of the process, conducting things to make them conducive to learning, watching the learners — learning how they learn and customizing the classroom environment to the uniqueness of the students.Albert Einstein during a lecture in Vienna in 1921Image via Wikipedia

The administrator is a teacher. Part of the process, watching the environment, coaching everyone to move towards a common goal. Making the learning environment sychronize with a unique staff of unique students.

And then, this quote came across my computer today:

“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” Albert Einstein”

Supreme art of a teacher is to awaken joy? You are artists. Your job is to awaken a joy for learning. So, says a brilliant scientist and many other educators who know this in their heart.

Ah, how far we have fallen from the art and beauty of much that has made teaching great.

And yet, amidst the testing and tough times, the truly great teacher artisans are still those that capture, and continue to awaken that joy and experience it every day.

Never lose your wonder that you have students to influence and help. And take the last moments before break or the first moments starting the next period to awaken joy.

Never forget that the first step to awakening the joy of learning in others is to experience the joy of learning yourself.

Remember your noble calling, teacher!

You are an amazing artisan of joy with a noble calling. And although a king may fall in the mud and be trampled, tis nobility of the heart that determines his kingship. Do not let what the world says about teachers get you down — you have the most noble calling on earth.

Hold your head high and celebrate it this season!

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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FrznGuru December 15, 2008 - 8:46 pm

I’ve often wondered what I would liken a teacher to. I never could quite pin it down, until I watched Benjamin Zander on TEDTalks,

“The conductor of an orchestra doesn’t make a sound. He depends on his ability to make other people powerful.”

“My job is to awaken possibilities in other people… How do you know if your are doing it? Look at their eyes. If their eyes are shiny you know you are doing it.”

The ‘shiny eyes’ he talks about really made me think. Are my students eyes shiny? It’s such a simple thing, but has such deep meaning.

It’s easy to see from Benjamin Zander’s talk, how a teacher is like a conductor.

Anonymous December 15, 2008 - 9:11 pm

Wow Vicki! Those thoughts truly are profound… I’m glad I stumbled across this. How long have you been teaching?


Lindsay Price December 15, 2008 - 10:18 pm

If only, if only this was the mantra of all teachers – to ‘awaken joy.’ Can you imagine a classroom based on joyful learning?

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Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere