The most important things I can do as a teacher can be divided into three categories:

1. build the students' confidence and ability,
2. teach and model behavior that is a benefit to the community and to the world, and
3. teach in a manner consistent with the mission and goals of my students as well as myself.

The first is the most obvious - teach, and teach well! When I first started teaching 20 years ago, I had the idea that I would be supportive and nice and fun with my students. They did indeed like me, and enjoyed their lessons, but after awhile, the progress wasn't what they (and I) had hoped, and they would flounder. I realized that it wasn't enough. It was very important, as it turned out, to help them improve their skills and understanding of the subject as much as possible, and that in itself was an act of kindness and support. Since then, I've worked daily to encourage the best possible work from each student, and to reinforce positive behaviors while redirecting negative ones. When they get better at playing their instrument, they are more likely to practice it and to participate in musical activities, and from there it's an upward spiral.

The second is less obvious, but probably even more important to me, and also has the result of building confidence and turning out good work. When students are encouraged to approach their work with enthusiasm and confidence, they tend to be supportive of others' work, too. When they are taught to think and behave compassionately and intelligently, they feel nourished and energized by their work, rather than drained. And most of all, as a teacher (and a parent, for that matter), I feel happy to have help add something positive to the world and the community.

Lastly, it's important to behave professionally and genuinely. Show up early, be dressed appropriately, have materials prepared, and expect the same of the students. At the same time, I need to be myself; otherwise, all this can be exhausting. Dress professionally, but in a way that is comfortable to me, for example. Have materials well-prepared, and have the choices of material be enjoyable to me and the students. Anything we can do to make learning a positive, exciting, inspiring activity.