NMEA 2012 Day 2: I Miss My Students?!

Only a struggling young teacher would be this excited about a book with a title like, “Classroom Management in the Music Room: Pin-drop quiet rehearsals and classes.”

Of all the really great sessions and performances I saw today (including a stunning performance by the University of Nebraska – Omaha’s Symphonic Wind Ensemble), my favorite was by far David Newell’s extremely practical, common sense approach to classroom management.

After the last few weeks of middle school choir and band, I was on the prowl for the best resources, strategies, and techniques for managing large numbers of middle school students. As soon as I saw the title of the session (the pin-drop quiet part seemed excessive), I knew I had to be there! Thankfully, we sat down just before they started turning away people due to capacity concerns.

I took pages of notes in Evernote, recorded audio of the whole session, and had to track down someone else’s copy of the handout to take a picture of it! I intend to purchase the book as soon as it is released. I don’t want to say too much, because I think Mr. Newell deserves every penny and ounce of credit for creating such a fantastic resource, but he managed to take the classroom management techniques I had heard described for years in college education courses and apply them to the specific challenges of music classrooms.

I can’t recommend his management sessions strongly enough, and I’m sure his work on teaching rhythm is just as fantastic. In fact, that will be some great reading while I await the publication of his new book.

One more day of professional development tomorrow including performances by my own Concordia University Nebraska Wind Ensemble, the Doane College Choir, and a Nebraska Choral Directors reading session and conducting/Alexander Technique Workshop with Dr. Courtney Snyder of the University of Nebraska Omaha (whose conducting took my breath away at the UNO performance mentioned above).

One more day of meeting professional educators as a young teacher, not just a student. My cooperating teacher was awarded the chair for Middle Level education, and it was great to meet some of his colleagues throughout the state, as well as various clinicians and professionals from the state and the nation (including current national NAfME president, Nancy Ditmer and the president-elect).

One more day of affirming experiences that remind me that I have chosen/been chosen for a profession that I believe in so strongly and love so much. In fact, all of this talking about teaching music has made me almost miss seeing my students (which is almost masochism at this point).

I know I’m not a master teacher yet by any means. But I know that the Mr. Jensen that will stand before his students on Monday is not the same Mr. Jensen they have known for the last 4 weeks. It’s a new day, and I’m ready to make music.

NMEA 2012 Day 1: “Real Teacher”

MENC logo

MENC logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Not Christmas (which I do love), but conference week! Today was the first day of the Nebraska Music Educators Association (NMEA) conference in Lincoln, NE. This is my 3rd or 4th year attending, and I have looked forward to it every year.

 

Today, collegiate sessions included a keynote address by National Association for Music Education (NAfME) national president Nancy Ditmer about the transition from student to teacher. It was amazing how many of her comments I found supported my experiences as a student teacher!

 

My favorite session of the day, however, was a panel with eight or nine young teachers about what teaching is like. I love talking with young teachers, and really enjoyed hearing the perspective of these teachers who have been teaching for a few years! I got some fantastic advice about middle school classroom management with large numbers of music students!

 

Mostly, I enjoyed a day of talking about music education with my peers and hearing about best practice for music education from working teachers in a variety of settings. Conferences always provide solid strategies for behavior management and interventions, conducting technique, and teaching in the challenging field of music education.

 

I’m looking forward to full days of performances and sessions over the next few days of conference! The closer I get to being a “real teacher,” the more serious I take these conferences. When asking about the middle school management issues, I had real live human beings in mind, not just the concept of a difficult classroom.

 

That’s the thing that student teaching offers that no practicum experience, class simulation, or case study could ever prepare you for: you are responsible for the musical success and education of young people.

 

It’s terrifying.

 

It is the best job in the world.

 

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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).