Konner Kiesel | Faces of Midland
Growing up in a family of educators, Konner Kiesel was shaped by two core tenets: service and inquiry. In his household, it was customary to be involved in serving others and being encouraged to ask questions continually. This environment is what has helped lead Konner to who he is today.
“There were two things that I’m happy my parents did. We were always going to church and learning how to help people. We were all teachers, so I grew up in a household that was very service oriented and all about helping people. I think that it is something that really shaped me. The other thing was that I was always taught to ask questions. My dad never dumbed down how he would talk to me, so I realized early on that if I was going to learn anything, I was going to have to start asking questions. I think those are the two things that are very foundational to who I am.”
Following in his family’s footsteps, Konner views his role as a future educator as centered around developing these two tenets in his students. As a teacher, he hopes to foster service and inquiry amongst his students, primarily through how he models it in his day-to-day life.
“They say a good teacher is a good student, and I never plan to stop learning. I have such a love for formal education, but that informal education is always more fun. Though you are the teacher in the classroom, there is no one you will learn more from than your students. Even the very limited interactions I’ve had in classrooms have already taught me this. These kids are asking you questions, and you have to find an answer. But then the kids aren’t learning if I am the one answering everything. It is learning how to ask questions, and it’s fun because I am the one who grew up my whole life asking questions, and it’s fun to reframe that now to asking questions of my students and getting my students to think critically.”
At Midland, Konner is studying to be a music educator. For him, music is a unifying force, and this will be a staple of his future classroom. In many ways, Konner credits his experience at Midland, especially the collaborative nature of the arts, as instrumental in developing what he wants his future classroom to be.
“I came to Midland because I saw the collaboration. When I got here, I did all of these things where I could dip my toes in all these different ponds. Even now, I still get to explore every day that I come here. I get to explore in my class, and I get to explore in the shows that I do. That’s the really cool thing about education, and being here at Midland, it’s an environment to explore.”
As a music education teacher, Konner wants to foster this same environment of exploration that Midland has in his own classroom. For Konner, learning is all about the experiences his students have and how he can shape those experiences. Especially when engaging in music, these experiences result in students learning life skills beyond the music itself.
“Music teaches things that aren’t taught anywhere else. I won’t be teaching kids how to find the integer of this number; I am not teaching kids how to write a sentence grammatically. I am teaching kids how to express themselves. This is something that is so vitally important, but once you get to middle school and high school, teachers wean away from teaching social skills and go towards teaching more content because they have so much to cover. So coming to a music classroom allows students to learn those skills still. At the end of the day, even if my students can’t sing or their performances are awful, I have done my job as long as my kids leave knowing how to express themselves. It would be huge if I could get kids to connect and express themselves because if we can start connecting and expressing together, people in our society will be nicer to each other. And if we are nicer to each other, we can get a whole lot more done.”
Konner Kiesel is a junior music education major from Wilbur, NE. To share your story or nominate a friend, email email@example.com or post using #FacesofMidland.