“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and cannot remain silent.” Victor Hugo

I have just finished week four of my student teaching experience and cannot believe how fast the time is flying by. In just a short three weeks I will be moving on to my second placement and will be half way done with student teaching. I am having a blast student teaching and love that I get to get up everyday and go make music with my students. While I will be sad when my student teaching experience is over I can’t wait to get my classroom and begin making music with my own students everyday!

Advice/Lessons Learned– Below is some advice and lessons I have learned through my experiences this week.

  1. Ask for advice- I have learned that it is very important to ask for advice especially if you find your self struggling in a specific area. Coops, supervisors, friends, professors, and other teachers are all great people to ask for advice. I believe that asking for advice as a beginning teacher or undergraduate is crucial to help us grow and continue to become better educators. I believe learning to be an effective educator is not something we can do on our own and without seeking advice.
  2. Get to know your students- I have learned how important it is to get to know your students outside of your classroom. Knowing your students interests, dislikes etc. can help to build a stronger relationship between you and your students. During this week I would try to hold conversations with before class began about things other than music. The students like to know that we as their teachers are interested in their lives.
  3. Differ instructional strategies- When teaching we have to use a plethora of instructional strategies to make sure that we are reaching all of our students. All students do not learn in the same way, so we cannot teach only one way. For example in my junior high band I sing parts, play them on the piano, play along with the student, play recordings for the students, clap rhythms, and have the students sing the rhythms. Often I do all or the majority of these strategies in one rehearsal. It is very important to have a variety of  instructional strategies to use for every lesson you teach.
  4. Listen to your students- It is extremely important to listen to your students and let them voice their opinions in your classroom. Our students often have great ideas that may help the entire class out. For example, this week in general music my students were struggling with the concept of counting half steps and whole steps. I tried explaining it to them in many ways, but they still were not getting it. Then one of my more advanced students spoke up and explained it in her own words. The way she explained it I had not thought of, but most of the students were able to understand after she explained it. Our students often have a lot to add to the lesson, so it is our job to make sure we let them.
  5. Passion- In order to be a music teacher and enjoy what you are doing you must have passion. I believe that most music education undergraduates have a passion for music or they wouldn’t have made it this far. It is crucial to relay that passion to your students while you are teaching. If your students can’t tell that you are passionate and care about what you are doing they won’t care either. This week I had a high school band student come up to me and say “Miss Heist we can tell you love what you are doing and we want to do well because we know you want us to succeed.” This meant so much to me because I know that my passion for music is coming through to the students in my teaching.

Challenges- below are some of the challenges that I was faced with this week.

  1. Finding different ways to explain a concept- Many times you have to explain a concept multiple times, but explaining it the same way each time doesn’t work. As teachers we have to be able to quickly find ways to say the same thing in a different way. This was a challenge for me this week as sometimes I wasn’t able to quickly come up with another way to explain the concept. One thing I found to help with this challenge is when planning think of multiple ways to teach the concept when there is no pressure on you. This way when you are actually teaching you will already know many ways you can try to teach the topic.
  2. Special education students- One of my biggest challenges this week is dealing with special education students in general music. The challenge I was faced with is trying to find the balance between keeping them engaged, but not embarrassing them by calling on them in front of everyone. I found that it is often very easy to “forget” about these students because they are often very quiet and don’t participate. One way to engage them without embarrassing them is to call on them for something you know they understand. I also found calling on them for something they don’t know and then using that as a teaching moment for the whole class can be a great strategy.
  3. Staying firm- Classroom management is becoming much easier as the weeks go on, but I am finding that it is often hard to stay firm. Many times it seems like it would be easier to just give in instead of constantly battling with your students, ut in the long run staying firm is the best. For example my high school percussionists do not like to play during rehearsal and often just stand in the back and goof off. Some days I feel like it is just easier to let them go instead of dealing with them, but I have found this week that the more firm I am with them the better they are. Again it takes perseverance, but staying firm will eventually pay off.
  4. Be proactive- This is often a challenge because you are always focused on what is going on currently and not what might happen. I found that of you are proactive you can save yourself a lot of headaches and save wasted time. This week some ways I worked on being proactive were by when planning lessons I would look for areas that might cause student problems, look for areas that could cause behavioral problems, and plan ahead for questions the students may ask. The challenge with being proactive is to constantly be thinking ahead and not just stuck in the current moment.
  5. Dealing with interruptions- This is a challenge for me because interruptions break the flow of your lessons and often cause both you and your students to get frazzled. Some interruptions I face this week were phone calls, announcements, and students getting taken out of class. In dealing with interruptions it is important to be flexible and change around your plans if necessary. It is also important to stay focused so that you as the teacher can quickly get your students back on task.

This week I began to see a lot of rewards from the perseverance I talked about in my post last week. This week everything from the students gaining a better understanding of certain concepts, to hearing more improvement in the ensembles, to building better relationships with my students seemed to click. While the weeks still had its challenges I felt that this week was by far the best week of student teaching so far. My goal for the next three weeks is to savor every moment and make the most out of every situation because before I know it I will be moving on to my next placement. Finally, not only do I want to savor the good moments, but also the challenges and hardships to so that I continue to become a better educator and leave a lasting impression on my students.