Friday, February 13, 2015

Who Am I?

My first assignment in my Secondary Methods Class at University of Bridgeport is to read peter Boonshaft's Teaching Music with Purpose (he has three similar books).  Students then write a blog post answering what their core values are.  Here was my assignment two years ago.

I got an assignment from my Superintendent to spend professional development time today on a project of my choosing.  I choose to reflect on my post from two years ago and reread the Boonshaft.

My core value list from 2013:
  • Be on time.  Be professional.
  • Honor the music.  Respect the composer.  
  • You must read the music.  It is the key to unlocking musical secrets.
  • Each student has a musical voice.  Sometimes they need to discover it.
I do not think any of these have changed.  I do believe if you asked my students what my core values are they would be able to make the same list.

One thing I might add is that I love projects, whether it is pioneering Palm computers, iPads and the Symphony, or restarting a Drama program.  I feel students love the NEW.

While re-reading Boonshaft I was reminded of two aspects of teaching:
  • You need access to high quality literature, instruments, and students.  I have some control of the first, little control over the second, and little control over the third.  
  • You need to spend a crazy amount of time on conducting practice, score study, and rehearsal planning.  I teach Band AND choir, AND three sections of American Government.  I have 45 minutes per day to do budget, fix instruments, make copies, grade papers.  I need to find time to improve rehearsals by doing the proper amount of study.
So how am I working on this?
  • Today, as an example, I am meeting with my Middle School colleague to review repertoire, develop strategies for sharing assessments and music, and review conducting basics.
  • I need to find ways to "farm out" tasks.  My administrative load is insane.  Between the field trip forms, $$ deposits, CMEA paperwork, iPad updates, etc... The more I organize, the better.
  • Teaching the class at UB forces me to reflect on my practice AND have students critique it.  
  • I read a lot.  Not nearly as much as I did before my stroke (its hard...).
  • I am pushing for grant funds to improve our instrument library.  We simply do not have enough instruments.  We are WAY ahead of where we were 5 years ago when I arrived, but we are a good $200,000 behind similar schools with quality programs.  We currently have no students in district playing oboe, bassoon, horn, tuba, or baritone sax.  
  • I am beginning to organize our library.  This, I believe, would take me 150 hours of work.  But I have to do it.  See above for the 45 minutes per day I get...
  • I conduct MUCH worse since my stroke.  I need to find someone to help me with this.