30 Day Blog Challenge Day 5

Day 5: How do you keep your classroom organized?

Simple! I don’t have one!

I do however, intend to keep as organized a classroom as possible. Everything should have a place, and I hope to include students in the process of keeping things organized in my music room!

I’m a big Harry Wong procedures fan, and I intend to use the same kinds of procedures to ensure that my classroom stays organized, clean, efficient, and optimal for learning!

 

30 Day Blogging Challenge Day 4

Day 4: What were you most worried about as you approached your first day as a teacher?

My biggest fear when I started student teaching last Fall was that I wasn’t going to be good at it. Looking back I realize that it was kind of silly, but I was worried that after four years of study in music, pedagogy, educational psychology, special education, and over 100 hours of in classroom experience that I would, well, suck at it!

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I know that the real first day will present another set of worries and fears and that every first day for the rest of my career will begin again with new concerns.

I started student teaching on a Tuesday after a day off of school. I was assigned to teach 5-12 Band and K-6 General Music! So. Many. Kids! Names whizzed by me, teachers came and went, and it was very intimidating. But as that first week went on, I realized that I was ready. I was not a college student when I was in that building. I wasn’t a recipient, but a moderator of knowledge in that building.

By the time my second first day came along, I was ready. I jumped into my second placement in 6-12 Band and Choir headfirst and didn’t look back. I was still nervous. I worried that I wouldn’t fit into the public school community, that I wouldn’t connect with the students, that I would not like my new cooperating teachers, or that I would somehow embarrass myself right off the bat.20130206-093712.jpg

Luckily, none of that happened. I fell in love with teaching in my second placement. I liked it before, but that’s when I really became a teacher.

30 Day Blogging Challenge Day 3

Day 3: In which area do you think you can improve the most?

There’s an ease to master teachers when they are in the classroom that I

David Newell’s new book Classroom Management in the Music Room: “Pin-Drop Quiet” Classes and Rehearsals

sincerely admire. When I think of the best elementary music educator that I’ve observed, I think of someone with an intense mastery of the craft, a curriculum design that gets results, and an infectious personality. (I should go visit her at school sometime soon!)

One thing that I recognize in master teachers that I haven’t managed to pin-point and define. I’ve written about David Newell’s seminar on classroom management for the music classroom before here, but until I have my own classroom, I won’t be able to fully implement his strategies in a meaningful way with my own students.

While I was implementing his strategies I wasn’t fully confident with them. They weren’t my own. I was borrowing from an expert. And that’s okay. I often told my choir students at my second placement school that I didn’t much care if they really believed the words they were singing, but they needed to convince me that they did. “Fake it ’till you make it” may sound like a disingenuous practice, but I think it’s a valid way to come into new teaching strategies and find success outside of my comfort zone.

Some things will come with time. I’d love to be the best teacher ever right away,

Photo Manip by karl683 2012

but I realize that so much of what a great teacher great is experience working with students and learning from mistakes.

So here’s to some new mistakes and new lessons!

30 Day Blog Challenge Day 2

Day 2: What do you believe is your greatest strength as a teacher?

What’s the saying about “man’s best-laid plans?” One of the best lessons I learned in Student Teaching was that a well-thought out lesson plan will sometimes go south. That half of your students will be on a trip. They aren’t picking up something as quickly as you hoped. You weren’t informed about a fire drill. Someone tries to throw a chair.

I think one of my biggest strengths as a teacher is my ability to adapt to unusual circumstances and be flexible in my teaching and planning. As a student teacher I worked with four very different cooperating teachers, and an ever-changing landscape of student interactions. Many days my plans were fine and I think I taught some great lessons during student teaching. But there were certainly times where things did not go according to plan.

It’s easy to get frustrated. To let the students talk until the bell, to play a simple game. Certainly better planning is needed, but in those moments, when my best-laid plans have been laid waste (even by a Kindergartener!), I find that I figure it out. I don’t know if it’s intuition, training, or sheer luck, but the teacher in me comes out. You find ways to make it work and meet the students where they are.

Is it always perfect? Of course not. During one of my supervisor observations I realized I had not properly pre-assessed the knowledge of a group of late elementary students and had to completely revise my plan, but I saw their frustration and didn’t try to charge forward with my plan. It seems like such a small thing, but I recognize now that it was an important moment in my teaching. I messed up, recognized it in the students, and fixed it on the spot.

So my greatest strength as a teacher right now is flexibility (and content knowledge, and pedagogy, and student relationships, and a bunch of other principle friendly lingo). Maybe one day my planning will catch up to my teaching, but until then, I know I can adapt and adjust to any situation those students can throw at me!

30 Day Blog Challenge Day 1

Day 1: How did you decide to become a teacher?

When I started college I was a pre-seminary student pursuing an undergraduate degree in Vocal Performance. During my sophomore year, I decided to drop the seminary certificate and pursue education as a career.

Photograph of The Boxcar Children books on a shelf.

I loved The Boxcar Children books as a kid! Will need to find a set before I have children of my own! Creative Commons License 2011, janielle23, http://www.flickr.com/photos/janellie23/5557021621/

I’ve always loved school. In elementary school I would have my father drive me to school early to get everything ready and make sure I was prepared for the day’s learning. I’ve always loved to read. We joke in my family that my mother once collapsed in the library while pregnant with me, and that I’ve loved to read ever since. I’ve always loved music. I remember standing and singing in my classes at my first elementary school and being told I had one of the best voices in the class.

But I’m not a teacher because I love school, because I love to read, or because I love music. I’m a teacher because I believe education is the place that I can best make a change in this world. Teaching is the most fulfilling work I’ve ever done, and I’ve only been a student teacher! There’s something incredible about making music with students and helping them find their voice and their song.

As a student teacher I worked at two different schools, with four different cooperating teachers, and with close to 700 students from grades K-12. I will never remember all of them. But I will remember that it was there that I discovered my love for teaching. It was not a chore to get up in the morning and drive 30 minutes to school with coffee in hand.

Instead, I greeted my students cheerfully (even at 7am!) and asked how their weekend was, or how the One-Act was coming along. I decided to become a teacher because I think I already was a teacher. When I wanted to be a pastor, I was drawn to the teaching aspects of the office.

Keep Calm and Teach On

Copyright 2012 Ashley Kipp at Simply Designing http://simplydesigning.blogspot.com/

As I wrote in my post, Teacher to Student, I have felt a great loss in my transition back to being a college student. I don’t receive the same fulfillment as I did during student teaching. But a bit of that spark comes back each time I browse the classifieds of districts I’m hoping to apply for, and I look forward to the day when I have students of my own again.

I guess I never did really decide to become a teacher. Instead, I chose a major and teaching found me along the way. I’ll never look back.