Recently I had a student ask me what was required to be a college instructor. After explaining to her the educational requirements for teaching at the community college and university level, I continued by telling her that there is a difference between being a teacher and being a good teacher. I told her that it is not the degree that one holds that necessarily makes a person good teacher, but the attitude that person has towards the students. I believe that to be a good teacher, one must care about the students. It is not enough for me to simply impart to my students the information that I have learned, either by experience or from a book. I honestly care about my students. I care about who they are, what they learn, how they learn and who they will become in the future. I tell them that if I do my job right (and they do their job!), they will walk out of the classroom at the end of the semester knowing as much as I do on the materials we covered. I also tell them that it is my hope that as they continue to grow and learn, they will know more than me. I care that they not only learn about music to the best of their ability, but that they will be smart, creative, caring members of society.
I have been fortunate in that in addition to being a part-time college instructor, I have other commitments as well: I have a full-time day job in the "real world," I am a working composer, and I have a wife and three children. It may seem strange to use the word "fortunate" when looking at all I do, but all of these enrich my ability as a teacher. I can bring elements from all areas of my life into the classroom to bring an understanding, compassion and relevance to how and what I teach. Although my classroom is filled with humor and a sometimes-relaxed atmosphere, I teach the importance of discipline and dedication, passion and commitment. I try to empower my students so that they will strive to achieve all that they desire. I don't teach for a semester, I teach for a lifetime.
UPDATE: In the Spring of 2015, I received a second Adjunct Faculty Excellence Award at Santiago Canyon College. My comments above still ring true. Maybe even more so.