” Every student can learn, just not on the same day or in the same way.” George Evans

This past week was one of the toughest, but best weeks of my undergraduate career so far. I began taking over teaching responsibilities this week and by the end of the week I was teaching most of the classes including; elementary lessons, junior high band, 7th grade general music, and senior high band. It was an exhausting week both physically and mentally, but I enjoyed every minute of it. My co-op lets me be very independent and often stays in her office while I am rehearsing the different groups. At first this made me very nervous, but being independent is the only way to learn and get better. Below are some of the lessons I learned and challenges I faced this week while I was teaching.

Lessons Learned

  1. Build Relationships- As a student teacher it is very important to build relationships and rapport student early on while still making sure the students know that you are in charge. The students want someone who they can relate with. Some ways to build these relationships are to get to know the students, learn their names, talk to them when you see them in the hall, and most importantly make sure the students know that you care about them.
  2. Flexibility- I learned this week that it is very important to be flexible when you are teaching, because you never know what may happen or what interruptions you may have. Also it is important to be flexible and change your lesson plans on the spit if necessary. The first day I taught junior high band this week I planned based of off what I heard them struggle with earlier in the week and spots I thought might give them trouble based on my score study. To my surprise almost all the spots I picked to work on the students didn’t have trouble with so I had to change my plans on the spot.
  3. Plan B- It is very important to always have a back-up plan if something falls through with your original plan. This also goes along with flexibility. For example on Friday I planned to use the Smartboard to go over homework and work on examples as a class to review for their upcoming test, but the Smartboard decided to not work. While I was trying to get the Smartboard to work I broke the students up into pairs and gave them each a problem. They had to solve the problem together and then we shared them all as a class. This kept the students learning and then the Smartboard started working so I could continue on with my original plan.
  4. Organization- I quickly learned this week why teachers are always complaining that their desks are a mess. It does not take long for a huge stack of papers to pile up and be cluttering your desk. As a student teacher who is still learning a lot about the profession it is extremely important to be very organized. I am doing this by keeping a 3 ring binder divided into sections for each of my classes. In each section I keep all my lesson plans, materials, papers to grade etc. This also allows you to be able to quickly grab your stuff for your next lesson if you don’t have much time in between classes.

Challenges

  1. Discipline- One challenge this week was dealing with classroom management and discipline especially in my senior high band. The students are very talkative and my co-op often just talks over them because she gets sick of trying to make them get quiet. My first day I left them go a little, but I quickly realized if I kept doing that I was going to lose control soon. The next day I told them that I would not go on until they were quiet. On Friday I was planning on letting them out a few minutes early, but they lost this privilege because they kept talking. A strategy that seems to be working well with them is calling on them if they are talking and not paying attention. One day I was singing a rhythm and one of my trumpet players was turned around talking. I called on him and asked him to sing me the rhythm back. After getting strict with them they are  listening much better and respecting me more.
  2. Discouraged- There were a few times this week where I began to get discouraged. My general music class was really struggling to understand a concept and was doing very poorly on the homework. I was quickly becoming discouraged as I had only been teaching a day or two and they were already confused. I then realized that instead of getting discouraged I needed to come up with different teaching strategies. After making a few changes the students seemed to be making much more progress by the end of the week.
  3. Balance- This week I was challenged with trying to balance student teaching, ensemble rehearsals back at the college, and the daunting task of job searching (a topic I plan to write more about in the near future). It is really important to keep things in perspective . This week I learned that sometimes you have to let somethings go  to take care of your self. My biggest piece in regards to balance is to keep yourself and student teaching as the top priority and then work to fit and balance everything else into your schedule.

Overall I had a wonderful. This week I realized how necessary it is to have passion and joy for what you do. Being a music teacher is very challenging, exhausting and even discouraging at times, but having a passion for music helps to keep everything in perspective. A few times this week I was exhausted and discouraged, but loving what I am doing and having a passion for music is what helps me get up every morning and make it through the day. Even through the challenges and stress of my first few days of teaching I can truly say that I love every moment of it.

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