Student Teaching Week 3

Thursday was the best day of Student Teaching yet! My band CT gave me the go ahead to lead an all-music rehearsal with the marching band! I prepared all week and boy did it pay off. When the students walked in, they got a card and filled out the card with their information and a few fun questions as a get to know you. When that was finished, the next 45 minutes was almost non-stop fun for me.

Next week, I’ll be writing and using my own lesson plans within my CT’s procedures. I’m hoping I’ll get some practice in the classroom by myself. I was able to handle the HS band by myself last week, but I’m not so sure about the first, third, or fifth graders!

This week, I’m hoping to incorporate some more listening, notating, and composing into the rhythm curriculum.

My primary concern with the curriculum structure is the emphasis on performance. It seems like the curriculum is so tied to performance that many of the students are either performing music far too difficult for their musical development, or they are bored by music and musical practices too simple or inappropriate for them. I understand the need for performance, but it really seems like the curriculum is determined by the performance expectations, when I believe it should be the other way around.

Regardless, I’m learning a great deal about the kind of music teacher I want to be, the kind of school environment I want to work in, and how I think music education should be done (for me at least).

Sunday Night Blues

One week into Student Teaching and I can already feel it. The dread at the end of the weekend and the exhaustion of Sunday night. I know that tomorrow morning I will greet my students with exuberance and joy, but right now, I just want to sleep for days!

Here’s to hoping this feeling goes away at some point! To my fellow teachers and student teachers, I hope you get some rest tonight! Our students deserve our best!

(Addendum: I feel like I’m becoming one of those teachers that says things like “Our students deserve our best!” To be honest, I kind of like it. This teaching thing is challenging, stressful, but really, really fun.)

Student Teaching Week 2

“We’ll start when everyone is in their place, quiet, and ready to sing!”

This has been my magic phrase this week. When kids are being antsy in music class, this worked surprisingly well with all age groups for getting their attention and starting on task! Except, of course, for the sixth graders yesterday.

I had gigglers, slouchers, and chatty Cathy’s all over the place! I just could not keep their attention. The thing is, I have a lot of sympathy for these kids. The sixth graders are treated to pretty much the same exact curriculum as the Kindergarten class. I would be dying of boredom and looking to cause a little excitement if that were me!

But this isn’t a post about the importance of matching activities to cognitive development (that should be a given). I wanted so badly to tell those kids how much I understood their pain, that the songs were beneath them and that they were capable of making music!

For now, I just file it away for my list of things not to do in my classroom and do my best at creating musical experiences as best as I can!

Student Teaching and the Introvert: I can do this!

One day down! I counted it up and came to the conclusion that I saw about 144 kids today. Tomorrow, I will see almost an entirely new set of students, and even more on Thursday and Friday.

My student teaching peers talk about the 120-130 students they have in their high school classroom every day, and it takes everything in me to not give them a side eye. I know that they have different challenges and different struggles, but this one sure feels like mine!

One of my biggest fears going into today was the 8 hours of nothing but human interaction. I’m fairly proud and protective of myself as an introvert, and the constant interaction was enough to make me want to hide away in a good book. Fortunately, my fears were abated and I can honestly say (despite some challenges) that I really enjoy this teaching thing. Even if the methods aren’t what I would use, even if the school isn’t my ideal place to teach, I spent today making music with kids.

My field experiences haven’t been very extensive up to this point. This will be the first time I’ll really have an opportunity to learn every students name, to get to know the students I’m teaching and working with (all 200 of them).

There’s a lot more to be said about teaching and introversion. And even more to be said about teaching music, introversion, and the extrovert ideal so prevalence in our schools and culture. Bu. for now, I have to call it a night, because I have to get up tomorrow morning and do it all again.

And you know what?

I can’t wait.

Student Teaching Week 1: Music Ed in a Gen Ed World

“Be a dolphin!” “Be an umpire!” “Use proximity to intervene in student behavior.”

Thus begins the long list of useless (or at least not very helpful) advice presented in the last 5 days of student teacher orientation. I’m used to it by now, being tossed to and fro between the education department and the music department for the last 4+ years. Entering a classroom full-time, after 4 years of observations, aiding, and writing lesson plans I’ll never teach, there’s an incredible sense of panic urgency.

Adding to the sense of urgency are my peers, talking about their 3 sections of simple geometry, American English, or the third grade. My assignment? K-12 Music. Not elementary choir. Not middle school band. Not high school Javanese gamalan. 13 grades, ages 5-19, with at least 4 different types of music instruction.

Basically, management techniques and discussions of vocab instruction aren’t super helpful in helping me manage a 60 piece band or a recorder class.

This bothered me for years of gen-education classes! The key, for my understanding of applying general principles of educational psychology and theory, was Music Matters by David Elliott.

Elliott’s book helped me understand how Howard Gardner‘s understanding of multiple intelligence‘s translate to the classroom. Music making is not a non-thinking extension of verbal musical thought, but music making expresses thought through the action of music making. Music making is thinking-in-action.

The pressure was off.

Music education pedagogy is not language arts pedagogy is not mathematics pedagogy is not computer science pedagogy. I gave myself permission to not think everything my education professors (who I respect greatly and have learned a lot from) told me would work in my music classroom. Vocabulary instruction is fine, but it only teaches one aspect of musical intelligence (Elliott calls this musicianship).

My goal is always to provide students with authentic musical experiences with diverse musical cultures in a safe environment where they are safe to learn from their mistakes and explore their musical world. Their ability to articulate their experience must take a backseat to their music making. Divorcing the two results in non-musical performances and non-musical teaching.