Making music is different from just playing notes. Technique is important, but making music demands more.

Many people can play the notes, but virtuosos have something additional. They interpret and apply the composer’s music and capture the audience’s imagination and emotions. Some musicians have technical ability, but noodle their way through the music without expressive or interpretive impact.

Teachers are the same way. Some are technicians and others are truly significant virtuosos: those ‘pole stars’ — mentors — who make deep, substantial connections with students intellectually and emotionally. No metric can measure those relationships and interactions. It is part of the art of teaching – which may have the biggest and longest lasting impact on students’ lives.

Significant teachers are not robotic avatars that just follow a formula or technical process. Children at all developmental stages need teachers who can touch their spirits and excite their minds, as well as motivate them to learn.

 Passion for working with children and the art of teaching are essential for a deep bond. Without such passion, what is left are instructional and management processes.

Simply relying on tests – value–added or otherwise – is nonsense when it comes to identifying ‘pole star’ teachers. Nurturing and building trusting and profound relationships with children takes more than following a process and teaching to the test.

 Enthusiasm, creativity, compassion, and commitment are the foundation. In addition, deep understanding of child development, skill in improvising and customizing instruction, and authenticity in creating significant interpersonal professional connections with children are important. Translating knowledge into passion and zeal attracts students and awaken their curiosity and commitment.   

 Great musicians make music and so do great teachers.