I’m excited to be embarking on a new blogging project, writing for Minnesota Public Radio’s music education website. My first article, “Making the Mundane Musical,” is about finding ways to better utilize time in my elementary music classroom by making the details of classroom management and lesson structure into lessons about music. Please check it out!
In honor of Fathers Day, this post is about one of my two greatest mentors in life and in the field of education: my dad. With an estimated 50% of teachers dropping out of education within five years of earning their licenses, most schools are using their resources wisely by providing mentors to their new teachers. In my first year of teaching, it was essential for me to know people who could help me figure out HOW to teach. However, this continuing high dropout rate could be a symptom of new teachers not having mentors that show them WHY we teach. My dad has been this latter type of mentor to me.
“We both taught each other. And that’s how it should be.”
During a kindergarten lesson on the common melody of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and “The Alphabet Song,” one girl offered to teach her class the actions for “Twinkle, Twinkle” when she discovered, much to her shock, that I did not know them. She stood in front of the class and everyone followed her lead as we sang.
As she was lining up to leave music class, she pointed out to me that if it weren’t for her being in my class, I wouldn’t know the actions to that song. In fact, she had taught me–her teacher–something! I felt like I was observing someone having an epiphany (not an uncommon observance in a kindergarten classroom), as she pondered this, and then stated very decisively, “We both taught each other. And that’s how it should be.” Continue reading
I got an email from my cousin today, who has a son in fifth grade who is trying to decide which instrument to play in school. His favorite, and one that he received a high score on when he tried out all of the instruments that he was interested in at school, is the violin. Unfortunately, he has to choose between orchestra and band. Because his friends are going for band instruments, he is considering saxophone instead.
As school music budgets are being cut, instrumental programs are starting later, which makes the instrument decision come at a difficult time in a child’s life. My cousin’s son is a very sensible and cool kid, and it’s sad to think that he is even considering giving up the opportunity to play an instrument that he really likes and feels drawn to out of fear of being made fun of or not fitting in with his friends.