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The Ides of March

“Beware the Ides of March!” from Julius Caesar, by William Shakespeare.

Why do I remember this one specific line from Shakespeare that I learned in 10th English class in the spring of 2002? Over 20 years ago? 

I am very much a person with what I would call an impressionistic memory.  While some people seem to have vivid, detailed memories, in general I do not. 

And yet, I can remember the light in the classroom, the laughing of me, Charlie, Dave, and other classmates. And most specifically: Mr. W, in a crisp white shirt and black tie, the twinkle he had in his eye, his passion and enthusiasm, also in on the joke, knowing he was making an impression. “Beware the Ides of March!,” he read dramatically.

To this day, I think of that line every March 15th.  I wonder if my classmates still remember and think about that lesson.  Do they also feel a bit superstitious on this day? Do they feel the urge to go around saying this line to others? Does the general public know the reference?

Most importantly: why do I remember this one line of Shakespeare so clearly? Why is it so clear in my own mind over twenty years later?

Quite simply: my teacher.  Mr. W.  His passion, his enthusiasm, his willingness to be genuine and dramatic and a little silly in front of a group of 16-year-olds (certainly not the easiest audience).  

Yes, I have always loved literature and English class, and if I were not a music teacher there’s a good chance I would have been an English teacher.  But I think this moment, and this line of literature, is clear in my mind not because of the literature itself but because of the delivery of a passionate teacher.

It makes me stop to think: Will my students be quoting me some day? Telling a story? “Remember in music class when…” “Remember how Mrs. Mazer used to say…” What will they say about me? What will they remember about me? What will they remember about the time they spent in my classroom?

I hope they remember finding joy in music.  I hope they remember a special song, or activity, or performance. I hope they look back and remember feeling safe and accepted and seen and included and encouraged.  I hope they remember feeling confident, and like they could take risks.  I hope they remember a spark of passion for music and the arts and compassion for other people.  I hope they remember just how much fun it was to make music with friends. I can even dream big and hope they learned a few life lessons and about the importance of how you treat other people.

I think back to my own incredible teachers, especially my music teachers, along the way, and I know the impact they had on me and my life.  And while I may not be able to predict what my impact will be on my students, I know for certain what I wish for it to be.

How do you want your students to look back at their time with you? What lessons of yours do you think will stick with them? What words? What feelings? What impressions?

P.S. Thank you, Mr. W, for your enthusiasm and passion.  Thank you Mrs. W, Mr. R, Mrs. D, Ms. T./Mrs.O, Mrs. K, Mr. C, Mr. S, Dr. L, Dr. H, and Dr. C, and many others. My time in your classrooms was a gift.

P.P. S. And friends – please, Beware the Ides of March.

Today’s Slice is part of the Slice of Life March Writing Challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers.


2 responses to “The Ides of March”

  1. I don’t have a memory with this line of Shakespeare, but I certainly have vivid memories like this of my teachers throughout the years:
    – My elementary music teacher who taught us “head shoulders knees and toes” in Japanese.
    – My third grade teacher letting me know I’d gotten 100% on our times table quiz
    – My high school English teacher’s eyes and raised eyebrows after a student’s particularly thought-provoking comment

    I guess I hope that I can live on in their memories in some way, whether by a feeling or a vivid (positive) moment.


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