Student Teaching Weeks 4, 5, and 6: Improvising, Dynamics, and the Joy of Teaching

I’ve tried to write this blog post for the last three weekends, but have failed to complete it each time. With a week and half left in my first student teaching placement, my time at this school is close to expiring. And with that prospect is the anticipation of saying goodbye to my 400+ students, some of whom I’ve built a relationship.

One of my new students friends, is a second grader, J. J is anything but a teacher’s ideal student. Not once, in the 6 weeks I have been there has J participated in music class. Every day he would ask to do something else: play the piano, play the drums, sing a different song, use a microphone. Not a single note sung, not single action, not one note.

Not until Friday.

Whenever J was not participating in music class, it was never because he did not want to make music. He was constantly asking to sing me a song, or play the drums, but we needed him to participate in music class! So, on Tuesday, I asked him to meet with me after class and sat down and made a deal. If he participated in music, he’d get to come in during recess and we’d do whatever music activity he wanted.

Later that day, at recess, he pulled me aside and told me something that I’ll never forget: “Mr. Jensen, I don’t have any friends. No one will play with me.”

I was heartbroken. I said, “I’m your friend, J.” And the smile that filled his face will forever define my best moment in Student Teaching 1.

Friday morning, I reminded him of our agreement, and he smiled and gave me thumbs up. I was prepared to give him the recess if he participated at least a little bit! But he stood in his place, sang every song, and performed every action. After each song he’d turn around to me and say, “How’d I do, Mr. Jensen?” I smiled and said, “You did great, J.”

And at lunch, we played instruments and sang a few songs. (Turns out, he knows quite a bit about music and matches pitch very well!)

In a week and a half, I move on to my next placement, and J will be back in the same music class with the same teacher. I don’t know if he’ll continue to participate in music class or not, but I know that for that half an hour, the music teacher was his friend. And that’s a teaching moment.

2 thoughts on “Student Teaching Weeks 4, 5, and 6: Improvising, Dynamics, and the Joy of Teaching

  1. JP, though we have never met I have followed your progress through your mother. a long time family friend, Keep charging ahead. We are all proud of you. Your story instantly reminded me of Mr. Holland’s Opus.
    JDF

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