867-5309: Great Teachers Are Not One Hit Wonders

iceicebabyI was driving to work this morning scanning through my SiriusXM radio when I noticed a Michael Jackson song was playing on 80s on 8, 90s on 9, and Pop2K at THE SAME TIME. He could have had a song on 70s on 7 too, right?

That struck me that there are not that many artists who have strung hits together for four decades in a row. Elton John. Madonna. Billy Joel. U2. I’m sure there are more, but you get my point.

I love one hit wonders.

Tommy Tutone’s “867-5309 (Jenny).”

Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby.”

The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony.”

Those are all great tunes, and all tunes that I played a lot in my years as a mobile DJ. The thing about one hit wonders is, they take you back to a specific time and place. They certainly can bring happiness to people, but the song never changes, and eventually we get tired of hearing the same old song.

But artists like Michael Jackson, and Elton John and Madonna–artists who have had hits on the charts for decade after decade—have true staying power. They have been able to change with the times and always stay fresh. As a result, they have fans that span generations, and they end up off the shore of Lake Erie in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Great teachers are not one hit wonders. Great teachers know that to stay great, they too need to constantly adapt to changing times and meet their students where their students are.

Great teachers incorporate new technology into their lessons.

Great teachers constantly read and research, looking for better instructional methods and assessments to help their students.

Great teachers teach 35 years, not one year 35 times.

It’s not easy, that is for sure. For every Michael Jackson or Elton John there are 100 Biz Markies and Violent Femmes and Right Said Freds and Dexys Midnight Runners.

But the greatest teachers always work to stay on the charts. They owe it to themselves, they owe it to their profession, and they owe it to their kids.