While watching television, I heard a line that made me stop and think. “I’m responsible for what I say, not what you hear.” On the surface, those words are quite powerful, seem somewhat logical, and could be used to shut down a conversation pretty darned quickly. But for us as teachers, no words could be more untrue! We all know that it’s not what we say, it’s what our students hear. That is pretty much all that matters. I can give what I think is a great explanation for how to do something, but all that matters is what those students hear, and even more, understand. Certainly, assessing their understanding, and their ability to transfer that newfound knowledge, as well as taking small steps toward progress, are crucial in making certain they understand what we say. But simply remembering how disengaging and caustic those words from that television show can be will help us remember that we are as responsible for what our students hear as we are for what we say.

Peter Loel Boonshaft, Director of Education
KHS America

About the Author

Dr. Boonshaft, Director of Education for KHS America, is the author of the critically acclaimed best-selling books Teaching Music with Passion, Teaching Music with Purpose, and Teaching Music with Promise. He was honored by the National Association for Music Education and Music For All as the first recipient of the “George M. Parks Award for Leadership in Music Education.” Dr. Boonshaft was selected for the Center for Scholarly Research and Academic Excellence at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY, where he is Professor Emeritus of Music.