Tag Archive: transitions


“Without music, life is a journey through a desert.” – Pat Conroy

This past week I switched placements and am now in elementary general music. I currently am in the Franklin Area School District in Franklin Pa. I travel between three of the elementary schools in the district and have two cooperating teachers; Mrs. Ann McCauley and Mrs. Jo Lynn Curll. Besides elementary general music we also have fifth and sixth grade and lessons. This week was definitely a week full of transitions and changes, but I am enjoying my experiences in the elementary classroom so far. This week I mainly observed, but I did get the chance to get in front of all the classes and tell them a bit about myself and I participated in all the class activities. Since I have not really gotten the opportunity to teach any classes yet I thought I would use this post to share  what I enjoy about this placement so far,  and the challenges I have faced and think that I am going to face in the upcoming seven weeks.

What I Enjoy About Elementary General Music

  1. Variety– With elementary general music there is so much variety and options in what you get to teach. Each week and with each grade level you are teaching different songs and concepts. General music leads itself to a plethora of options when it comes to what you want to teach and how you want to teach it. I love this because it helps you as the teacher to not become bored and it also keeps you on your feet because your are constantly teaching different lessons. Also with elementary general music there is such a variety of materials that you can use which gives you even more options and possibilities.
  2. Creativity– Elementary general music is all about creativity, which is something that I love. Not that you can’t be creative in high school, but there are only so many ways that you can run a rehearsal. General music allows and requires you to think out of the box and create lessons that will be fun and memorable for the students. You get to be creative in not only how you want to teach the material, but also there is some creativity involved with what you teach. If you are not creative when making lessons for elementary general music I believe that both you and your students will be bored and nothing will get accomplished.
  3. Teaching Lessons More than Once– Some people don’t like having to teach something more than once because they get sick of the songs, but personally I really enjoy that aspect of elementary general music. Getting to teach a lesson more than once is a great way to reflect and figure out what works and what doesn’t and how you can make the lesson better for the next class. With teaching a lesson multiple times you get the opportunity to go back and fix things that did not work or add things that you feel might make the lesson even stronger. For example, this week I haven’t done much teaching, but I have introduced myself to the classes and taking 10 minutes to tell the students a little about myself and answer any questions they might have. I caught myself changing things each time I did the introduction depending on how the students were reacting, what types of questions they were asking, and what I saw was working and what was not working.
  4. Student Energy-Teaching elementary general music takes a ton of energy, but this is one reason I love teaching this level of music. The students are so energetic and for the most part love coming to music class and singing. I love being able to play off their energy and just being able to have a lot of fun with them while still making sure that they are learning. In elementary classes the students are willing to do a lot more than high school students, because high schoolers feel that it is uncool to sing and be silly in music class. Because the students have so much energy I believe that gives the teacher even more energy and reflects in their teaching.
  5. Balancing Act– I believe that being and elementary general music teacher is a balancing which keeps things challenging, but also exciting at the same time. Elementary general music requires you to multi-task and be the wearer of many hats. You are required to sing, do silly motions, play piano, guitar while managing a class of 25 energetic five-year olds. This is why it is important to be a well-rounded musician and take advantage of all the learning opportunities you are given in your undergraduate career. General music often takes you out of your comfort zone which is another aspect that I like. I constantly like to be challenged in new ways and I feel that elementary general music does just that.

Challenges

  1. Less Down Time– One challenge from switch to elementary general music from high school is that there is much less down time. In high school we had a prep period, plus one or 2 study halls. In elementary general music you don’t have these and you have many more classes. For example a few days a week we have eight general music classes and the only break we get is twenty minutes for lunch. This makes for an exhausting day.
  2. Travelling Between Buildings-While I do enjoy this because I get to see how the building differ even within the same district it makes the schedule more challenging and busy. The days we have to travel cuts into the limited amount of prep time that we get. Also travelling is challenging because you have to make sure and take all the materials you need. An example of this is that last week my co-op forgot a book for her fifth grade lesson and the other elementary school. She was unable to teach the lesson without this book so she had to change her plans on the spot.  General music teachers have to be extremely organized and plan ahead due to travelling between multiple buildings.
  3. Multiple Cooperating Teachers– While I really enjoy having two cooperating teachers and getting to see two completely different teaching styles and approaches it is also going to be a challenge. First off they both want things done a little differently which makes things more challenging. The biggest challenge is that they don’t teach the same lessons so I am going to have almost double the amount of lessons plans than normal each week! While this is going to be a challenge and very time-consuming I am hoping that I will learn a lot and in the long run it will help me become a better music teacher.
  4. Planning-Elementary general music takes a lot more planning and organizing materials. Each week you have to prepare seven completely different lessons and most of the time each lesson includes anywhere between three to five songs or activities. With elementary general music not only do you have to write the lesson plan, but you also you often have to create supplementary materials, learn how to sing the songs, practice with CD’s, and be able to play the songs on the piano.
  5. Getting to Know the Students– Elementary general music teachers see tons of kids each week. I am going to be seeing close to 600 kids a week. A big challenge is going to be getting to know the students and learning their names. I really enjoyed getting to know the students in my high school placement, but I feel that I am not going to get to know these students as well just because of the sheer number of them.

While this experience is completely different from what I just came from, I am extremely excited to learn under two wonderful mentors. Also I am looking forward to being challenged in new ways and continue to grow as a music educator. I am really looking forward to the coming week as I will be beginning to take over part of the classes and will be teaching kindergarten, first, second, fourth, fifth, and sixth grade lessons. I am sure that this week will be full of new challenges and learning experiences which I will share in next weeks reflection post.

“Teaching is useless unless you learn from your students and experiences.”- Martin Dansky

It is hard to believe that my first week of student teaching has come and gone already. I am hoping to use these weekly reflections to help me grow as a teacher and share my experiences, mistakes, challenges, and lessons learned. My goal for these posts is that they will be a learning experience for everyone involved. I look forward to sharing this journey with you. As I mentioned in a earlier post I am at Reynolds High School in Greenville Pa. I love my co-op and we get along very well. Even though I have not done much teaching yet I can’t believe how much I have learned in just 4 short days. The week has had some challenges, but I absolutely love it and am so excited for what I am going to experience throughout the next 13 weeks. Below are some of my experiences, lessons learned, and challenges from my first week as a student teacher. Continue reading