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.