When I was a wee child, my version of “You’re not the boss of me” was “You’re not the teacher!”.

You see, my mom could sit in front of a classroom of 30 massive sixth graders – near adults! – and with one eyebrow shift, Tommy Bowman (who terrified the other kids) would zhoop down into a yes ma’am ball like a rolly polly.

This was clearly the apex of power – public school teacher..

I also had a biological need to share data. Add to this a compulsion to correct folks making egregious life errors like grammar or open mouth chewing. 

I had one intense season sharing the gospel of how to spell Czechoslovakia. (That geopolitical nugget aged well.) I even enjoyed bedtime snuggles with the dictionary. 

That’s why it’s crazy to see our lil Noah bear vibrate with informational glee when he learns a new thing or spots an error in my parenting logic. 

He’s top notch at poking plot holes in improvisational bedtime stories or picking up dropped narrative threads – But Daddy, what about the ice cream scooper person at the beginning?

(…when the Callaway Transformers fight to defeat the Mickey Mouse Roller Coaster that turned into a theme-park destroying centipede robot at Disney World. These are the bedtime yarns.)

He’s on the teacher track himself as you can see from this photo from the lecture hall:

(He moonlights as The Mandalorian.)

And here he’s grading homework while pursuing an engineering side hustle – disrupting the computer space with magnet tile laptops.

Though I didn’t take the path of power to the public school classroom, thankfully, life pinballed, nudged, bodychecked, and shunted me right smack dab into teacher work. 

I’m actually required to go full Hermione Granger on the full-set World Book Encyclopedia of voice.

And my job is to help folks remember words – I even teach CLOSED MOUTH chewing exercises.

But the secret power I didn’t notice when I was wide-eyed at Mama’s classroom management magic was basic and powerful:

She cared.

That’s why she always got stopped and hugged at the grocery store. 

When the grad students show up for their 4th semester teaching seminar, they’re absorbing a flood of new info. And you know when you know more stuff, you learn how much you don’t know. 

Some of them tell themselves terrifying imposter stories, and they wonder: How’m I gonna get EVERYTHING locked down before I get those official letters that mean I know everything???

So, I tell them what I learned from my Mama – 

Your students just want to know that you give a shit.

If you care about your students, and you’re working with a baseline of healthy principles, you’re gonna help them. 

You’ll share what you know, and in the meantime, you’ll comb the library, your colleagues’ brains, and the google machine to find answers. 

And if you can’t help, you’ll find someone who can.

When I tell them this, shoulders melt. We remember to become learners again.

But it’s risky to care.

That’s why so many of us stop. We care, and we get hurt. 

But, if you wanna sing sounds that are butter magic, heal your soul, and vibrate like only you vibrate, you gotta keep on caring.

No other way.

Care for your singular point of view, your love of that song, your need to tell a story, the joy that singing gives you, the freedom to share your hurts through oscillating CO2 that was just around your heart. 

And if you care about these things, you’re automatically caring about the person who hears you. 

If you’re willing to live a story and all its feels in front of folks who spend their waking hours avoiding, squashing, and sublimating such sensations, that’s love.

I’m remembering the Broadway production of Ragtime in 1998: 

Audra MacDonald wept and rocked her baby while she sang “Your Daddy’s Son”; Brian Stokes Mitchell howled with grief and rage when they murdered his love; Peter Friedman opened the tender vulnerability of being a Jewish immigrant fighting to protect his daughter; Marin Mazzie invited you into how unseen women felt (and still do) at the turn of the 20th Century.

If you care for this gift of expression – this chance to make beautiful noises that heal you and those who are in earshot, it’ll change everything you do. 

Your singing becomes a way to heal your world. Not a hoop to jump through to show table people you’re as good as…. 

Yes, master your skills. Know your things. And do all that because you know why you care about it. You know your own reason and your own path into real-deal.

When you know this, and you put your body in the places and do the thing, you heal, and folks around you can, too.

You are the teacher. Notice what you care about, what you’d get up at 4am for, and let that invigorate every story you tell. 

And the lesson for every week – there’s only one you, and folks need to hear the story only you can sing.

Love much,


ps Here’s a series for flexibility and versatility and acoustic power through gentleness. Some simple, effective ways to work on this.