This easily distracted band teacher just loves to laugh. Some of the best moments in any of my rehearsals happen as a result of hilarity that only happens when students are involved. Encouraging a culture of fun, yet being able to get right back to work, is a vital part of who I am as an educator.
When I student taught at at 4th-8th grade school, I learned a valuable lesson that has shaped me into the educator that I am today. I learned that I could be myself. My cooperating teaching was loud, excitable and very easily distracted. But his heart was bigger than our whole state, and the students knew that they were important. It was in the safety of his tutelage that I realized that I didn't have to pretend to be the "all-knowing educator." I could be myself. Quirky, excitable and fun.
This article by AJ Juliani is an insightful and inspiring read that left me excited to get back on the podium-- but even more important, excited to take a look at my teaching style and see how I can incorporate more of the methods that encourage learning. In the article, Juliani states the three emotions that get the most traction in learning and education. They are Awe, Excitement and Amusement (or Humor). I think that anyway who remembers being a student will absolutely relate to this idea and agree. The best classes were the ones you were excited to be part of every day. The classes where the teacher made you laugh and the learning was memorable because it was fun.
Student teaching also taught me that being a music teacher is about so much more than just your philosophy of the importance of music. The value of music didn't change for me -- if anything, it became even more important through my career as I have begun to understand students as people who are experiencing life for the first time. It is critical that students learn how to be a beginner at something. In younger grades, children aren't so aware of the concept of failure. They just keep trying. But as they get older, they begin to associate inability to do something immediately with failure --- which is NOT the truth. In ability to do something is merely feedback. Feedback provides information. Failure produces judgement. Performing ensembles give students a chance to fail, to learn from what went wrong and try again, and to master. And the medium is fun, and social -- while using many different parts of their brain at one time.
In the band room the culture of the school changes. The students are no longer grouped by sport, by intelligence, by peer group, by socioeconomic status. They are simply Flutes, Clarinets, Saxes, Trumpets, Low Brass or Percussion. They learn how to work together with all different types of people, and no-one has to sit on the bench.
I knew that I would love being a teacher the day that I wandered the hallways in awe the first day of student teaching. Thirteen years later, I know without a doubt that I am in the right profession, and am excited every day to keep learning, and refining the process.