Thursday, January 15, 2009

Somebody's Watching...

So, I have a student teacher.

And it makes me painfully aware of every good teaching practice that I used to do that I now slack on. I have all these structures and strategies that I used to practice. Things that used to keep me organized. Ideas I used to want to develop. And now everything is in a crumpled pile at the recesses of my mind. Why did I stop these things? Time? Because I am lazy?

One year, I sewed a huge six by four foot fabric pocket chart with eight rows of nine colors in each row. For my recorder unit. Sewed it. No pattern. Do I even sew? I cut each pocket. Hemmed it. Lined it up. And sewed it onto a big black sheet. Do you know how many pockets that is? Seventy-two. And as I proudly made the finishing touches on my big project... I absentmindedly burned through it with a hot iron. Good. Fantastic.

My plan book. I have a beautiful way to keep track of what my kiddos are learning in six-week chunks. And when I use it, I am on top of the world. I line up all the activities with standards, benchmarks, and expectations to ensure that my kids are getting it all. It sits on my desk. And sits. I look at it. And it sits.

All my transition songs. I have songs for getting into a circle. Songs for lining up. Songs for getting things out. Songs for putting things away. Songs for keeping hands still. Songs for zipping your lips. These are songs that good music teachers use to make classroom management simple. Do I use them? Nah. Do I even teach songs, I wonder? I hate teaching songs. "Here, copy after me." How many times must I do that? That's not the only way to teach songs, of course. But it certainly is the default. I hate the default.

I am a good teacher. I know it. I am a really, really good teacher. And I could certainly be a better teacher if I could get myself together. Here's why I am a good music teacher... I try to be intentional about not shutting kids down. I try to make sure that they are encouraged enough to keep trying music even though they aren't perfect at it. I don't want them to give up before they even have given themselves a chance. My kids can sightread. My kids are thoughtful musicians. And excellent singers. I give my kids a chance to do things that most music teachers are scared to even think about. And those are things that they will remember for the rest of their lives.

But I don't teach enough songs. I do a crappy job teaching instrument families. And music history. I haven't taken my kids on a field trip. Integrating literature and music... not enough. International folk songs. Hmm. I don't make the older kids use their journals as much as I should. I haven't used my cool grouping technique in months. They love it. I suck at Orff technique.

Thanks, student teacher. I have a lot of work ahead of me.

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