Thursday, August 25, 2016

Behavior Expectations

I'm writing down a thought about student behaviors in the classroom. While it may seem a little bit pessimistic to some optimists out there, I think that students are guaranteed to misbehave. Anyone who walks into a classroom expecting the students to be fully capable of good behavior is unaware of reality. The problem is, when teachers expect perfect behavior and students begin to misbehave, it affects the emotional stability (and sanity) of the teacher. "What could have gone wrong?" "What did I do to allow or create such behavior?" It really drains you. I know because I used to have those high expectations for all of my students. It really upset me when a student would misbehave and then not even care about it. After years of teaching, I realized that this emotional rollercoaster was avoidable, and that my "high" expectations were actually "unacheivably high" expectations. When I come to the conclusion that students misbehaving was a regular thing, it wasn't so draining anymore.

The second thing is this: students are children/adolescents, and they are going to act that way. There is such a thing as requiring too much of them. There is such a thing as being a behavior-Nazi. So Bobby is whispering to Joey and they're giggling about something. Is it really necessary to break it up? Are you going to address every single misbehavior? Not a chance, not in the long run. There are some things that my students do that irritate me, but that doesn't give me the right to require them to stop. In my opinion, the students are allowed to have a little fun now and then. I don't necessarily have to approve of it, but as long as it's not going to hurt somebody, sometimes it's okay to let it happen. It is hard letting go of control. I want every student to be quiet and pay attention every time I speak. I want them to say please and thank you. I want them to say nice things to each other all the time. But the truth of the matter is, sometimes I catch myself holding my students to higher standards than I even hold myself. Pay attention for a whole hour? I have trouble doing that in church. Raise my hand every time to interrupt? Sometimes I just need to interrupt someone else's conversation. This year, I'm letting go of some control and realizing that kids don't always behave like they should. I didn't, and somehow I survived (and even turned into a teacher!).

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Spectrum of Repertoire

Just a quick post during my morning prep period:

There are two polar opposites when it comes to selecting repertoire for use in band, general music, and choir. One end of the spectrum says that music teachers should always include new music. There are so many pieces of high-quality music out there, and the only way to experience even a fraction of them is to make sure to choose new pieces every year. In other words, a teacher should never use the same piece of music twice in their entire teaching career.

The other end of the spectrum says that music teachers should find a set of music that can be rotated every two to four years and stick to teaching that music. It's easier for the teachers because they don't have to continue learning new songs, and it's better for the students because the teachers will really know each song inside and out and what to expect while teaching it. If the music is of the highest quality, there is no harm done in sticking to the tried-and-true pieces.

In practice, I would assume that nearly all teachers fall somewhere between the two extremes. Newer teachers probably choose more new music each year as they try to find songs that work best for them and their students. More experienced teachers probably repeat songs that they know to be effective in both challenging their students and giving them the feeling of success.