It’s important to not screw things up.

Posted: September 4, 2011 in Teaching stuff.
Tags: , , ,

The sky is looking dark outside. College football is on the TV. It’s annoyingly hot and muggy, and I won’t be surprised if I lose power. My internet is out so I’m typing this out on Word. Hopefully I’ll transfer it over to WordPress later. Obviously I did or you wouldn’t be reading it, right?

We’ve finished up week 2 of school. The 2nd week was definitely better than the first. Most of the bugs were worked out of schedules and we could settle down and get to work.

A couple things happened during the week that have stuck with me…things I need to deal with or plan for. I also had a few “wow” moments.

My school has two music teachers. We have a band director who only teaches band. He goes out to the elementary schools in addition to the junior high and high school groups. I currently teach guitar (don’t laugh) and music appreciation at the high school, and junior high general music and choir. I’m also the majorette sponsor/assistant director.

Through some miracle, we have a workable junior high band and choir rotation. In recent years it’s not been the most user-friendly schedule. The high school schedule still needs work, but we have great administrators this year. I think we’ll be able to add choir to our HS schedule 2nd semester. (Keep those fingers crossed!)

So, the 1st thing in my head….my 7th grade choir is about 60% boys. This is an unusual experience for me. (Aside from this year, my groups are usually around 90% girls.) Also, many of these students are coming from a less than ideal elementary music situation…2 teachers, 4 schools…900 kids to serve. There’s no way those kids are getting the music time they need. (Those same 4 schools have 3 PE teachers, and 1 art teacher #canwefixthis?) But, back to my 7th graders…they can sing. They’re awkward and goofy and immature, but they can sing. One young man in particular stunned me. He opened his mouth and it was a total Susan Boyle kind of moment.

Folks, I can’t screw this up.

I’m seriously worried that I’ll screw it up. There’s a whole lot of talent in that room. I’m the first daily music experience these kids have had. I have to make it a good one. I know it’s unlikely that I can keep them all in choir, but I really want to.

Moving on to the instrumental side of things…our band had its first half-time performance on Friday. These kids have worked HARD. We have a new director. Because he’s not the old director we’ve lost quite a few of our upper classmen. Our band is mostly beginners. We not so jokingly say that if we survive this year, we can survive anything. (However, we almost didn’t survive the trip to the game. Hopefully next time we can avoid the crazy bus driver and awful GPS directions.)

We only played 2 songs and did our drum feature at halftime: Open Arms, then our percussion showcase, and finally our school song.   We marched back to the sidelines and stood at attention to watch the other band play. They performed in t-shirts and shorts while we were in full uniform. Our kids were hot and miserable. As I stood there with our kids I noticed they were smiling. Yes, they were hot. Yes, the trip there was stressful. But, they saw that their hard work paid off. They knew they looked good. They knew they marched like champions.  They were proud of themselves for what they accomplished.

It made me stop and reflect.

Does what I do in my classroom give students something to be proud of? Do they feel accomplished? Am I giving them a reason to come to school every day or a reason to hit the snooze and check in after lunch? They’re not out in the public performing. I’m their audience. Am I doing what I need to do for them?

I like to think my classes are good…that they’re challenging, but not inaccessible…but I think it’s important to keep a constant vigil. I don’t want my class to be a dark storm cloud hanging over their heads each morning like I see outside my window now.

An image that sticks with me from half time is of one of our 8th graders. He stood on the sidelines watching the other band and was practically vibrating with joy. He looked out at the field and quietly said to himself, “I love this. I LOVE this.”  It’s an awesome responsibility. This young man has found something he’s passionate about…something he’s willing to work hard for…and we have to make sure we nurture that and not screw it up.

  1. You won’t screw it up. I am sure of that.

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