Once I realized how I operated, I had a sudden realization that, perhaps, my students were not all after the same things in my class. Yes, some of them are looking for approval from me, but not all of them. If I try to reach all of them by offering them approval, complements, good grades, only some of them will respond.
So the question was now "What are they in my class for?" Upon reflection, I've come up with the following thoughts.
Some are in Chorus because they enjoy the social aspect. It is important to give these students a chance to interact with each other as individuals, to get to know one another and have fun together, either in class, on busses to field-trips, or in extracurricular gatherings like fund-raisers.
Some are in Chorus because they love the music. These students aren't necessarily looking for me to tell them what great musicians they are. They want the music we make to be of the highest quality, either because it gives them pleasure, or because they want to be able to own that level of success.
Some of my students want to be pushed. They either like to work hard, at anything, or they need someone to make them work hard because they lack an internal motivation. It's my job with these students to model, and even to explain, a work-ethic that provides results.
Some of my students want to belong and feel accepted. This goes beyond a social need. These students are looking for a place where they are acceptable and even valuable. If I create a structured, supportive environment where they can grow, succeed, and even fail safely, I will succeed with them. These are my approval-based kids, and I'm most able and least able to help them because I'm so close to the issue!
There are others, too, who are only in Chorus because their parents made them join, or because they are running away from something else. If I am to succeed with these students, it will be because I have discovered what they want and can show them how Chorus will provide it for them if they do their part.
What do you teach for?