Superpower: Making students smile through their masks.
“I am much happier trying to make sure the kids are happier,” said Charles Grim when asked what he has learned about himself during this pandemic. It is this approach to teaching that has allowed Grim to teach elementary music for 32 years, 22 of which have been in the Ames district.
Each day, it is about the students first and foremost. The teaching will inevitably come. He found a teacher checklist that he often references during this particularly odd school year that reads: 1) Keep them safe, 2) Lower their anxiety about the current situation, 3) Make them laugh, 4) Make them feel loved, 5) Teach them something. All in that order.
For many elementary students, music can serve as a way to activate the creative portion of their mind and to express themselves. This fits into Grim’s style of teaching of patience and flexibility. He wants his students to have fun in class. “My focus is less on the musical knowledge and more on the student’s well being.”
There are still the hallmarks of the pandemic in music class with drumming instruments covered in plastic for easier cleaning and the requirement of masks. Grim loves having the students back in the classroom and “seeing the excitement in the student’s eyes.” It is also an opportunity for him to activate his superpowers of making them smile through their masks. “I value the kids first. I show them I truly care, and they show me they can do many things.”