Assignment 29: Principles

The set of principles that I teach and abide by stem from a plethora of sources, including past and present mentor teachers, educators that I’ve studied, and also personal beliefs. These principles emphasize my interaction and tactful engagement with children, teaching, music, and learning in general.

  • A musical experience is not defined by the how you make a musical experience, but the why we do.
  • As educators, it is critical to foster a learning environment that encompasses several forms of learning, in efforts to hit all educational bases.
  • Children are innately born with musical abilities that should be allowed to be creatively explored in and out of the classroom.
  • There is no limit to the amount of learning that can accomplished in a classroom; rather, it is a vital responsibility of an educator to provide the means for students to pursue whatever goals or aspirations that they want to achieve. 
  • Educators have the ability to impact the lives of the future generations not even known about yet, and therefore to seize to take each moment of teaching as a priceless moment.
  • Challenge if you choose to accept: no kid will be like any other kid. Find out what makes each kid who they are.
  • The power of music can make a major impact on the students’ lives.
  • Never forget the intentions of an educator are not to suffice their needs, but rather are selfless acts that will shape the future of our generation.
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Assignment 28: Project

PART ONE

For this semester’s internship, I am assigned to Emerson Elementary and Lehi Elementary School, giving me a taste of two very different school communities! Over the course of this semester, I have observed the schools and their communities, and and have researched further details that contribute to the make up of both schools. It was very interesting for me to take notice of the similarities and differences between the two.

Boundaries/Transportation

When comparing the two schools, which are both in the Mesa Unified School District, it is quite evident the difference in the boundaries feeding into the schools. Emerson Elementary stretches less then two miles both ways, while Lehi Elementary covers almost twice this boundary. This ultimately affects transportation to both schools. Emerson Elementary is immersed in a more run down neighborhood, where students either walk to school, or take a bus to school. On the other hand, Lehi Elementary is built in the farm areas of East Mesa, where a lot of the houses are of an older population. Therefore, all of the students are bussed in from all different directions.

School Statistics

The school statistics of these two schools fascinated me, as I have witnessed these standings just in the little time that I have spent there. At Emerson Elementary, a Title One School, the population is comprised of 52.7% of hispanic descent. Emerson has a student to teacher ratio of 20.1-1, and most recently in the 2015-2016 school year received a school letter grade of “C.” In addition, 67.1% of students at this school received free or reduced lunch. Lehi Elementary, a focus school according to its Title One status, is comprised of 62.1% of students with hispanic descent. This school has a student to teacher ratio of 13.6-1, and most recently received a school letter grade of “B.” Lastly, 77.8% of students receive free or reduced lunch.

Details of the Schools

The details of both of these schools were something I instantly noticed from my first initial encounters at the schools. Emerson Elementary, started in 1954, would be a school that I consider more run down. With hardly any color or patterns, the building makes a big square. Almost all of the classrooms are built in large portables, where it is very apparent that no significant remodeling has been done on the building. There is also one big chain gate that surrounds the school grounds. In regards to the music classroom, the class is shared with the Art classroom, therefore making it seem more cluttered then needed. The school has provided the music teacher here with several instruments, but nothing out of the ordinary or fancy. Lehi Elementary, started at its current location in 1978, appears more updated just by the outward looks of the building. Although there is not much color to the outer walls as well, the building is gated with clean iron bars, providing a secure feeling of protection on the campus. It is similar to Emerson Elementary as well that any revisions have evidently not been made for a very long time, as the walls are classrooms are built with brick. The music classroom here is nicer than the one at Emerson, as it is enclosed in its own building. This room is way more spacious, and has various instruments and technological tools that engage the students while teaching. Furthermore, upon asking my mentor teacher, both schools have handbooks, but he is not completely clear as to what both specifically entail.

 

If there is anything that I have learned from completely this first phase of my final project, it is that there are several components sometimes not taken into consideration that feed into the makeup of a school. It has been very interesting for me to take a step back from the teaching aspect of my clinical experience, and observe my surroundings at the two schools. I feel fortunate that I get to experience two different environments of a general music education classroom.

PART TWO:

I had the chance to sit down with my intern teacher and dive into further questions about their experience with teaching. Originally, my teacher never set out to be an elementary school music teacher. His intentions were to work with junior high and high school aged kids, especially as a choral education major. With that said, he has thoroughly enjoyed his past three years at the elementary level. My mentor teacher also mentioned the shift in aims and goals that he has made with these younger students versus older kids. One of his biggest goals is to remember that it is not about how we make music, but why. In music class, he tries to make every experience a musical and uplifting experience, and also reiterates to the class the accomplishments that they have achieved at the end of class through music. He also runs the choruses at both schools that he works at, and believes in giving a musical opportunity in any way, shape or form that he can! My mentor teacher pulled out his book of lesson plans and guidelines that he adheres to, many of which he said were passed down by the teacher who previously taught at those schools. From there, he has adjusted to what suits him and the kiddos best. One thing that my mentor teacher wished they had known or started with prior to entering the elementary music education scene is overall more exposure to elementary education in his college days. Even though he majored in choral education, he wished he had taken classes that would’ve given him more experience with working with students. At the two schools that he teaches at, my mentor teacher is lucky to have support from the faculty and administrative staff. Both schools provide the means that he needs, and try to provide verbal and physical support to all his activities! It has been a neat experience for me to see the daily life of an elementary music educator’s life, and all the planning and efforts gone in to make it a musical experience for the kids!

Brief Sketch: Little Kambraya lines up with her classmates outside of the classroom, eager to begin music class. As she walks into class, she finds her number on the floor, and plops a seat. The teacher begins the lesson, asking a question about what was taught last week. Kambraya raises her hand ever so fast to correctly answer the questions, and receives a sticker positively reinforcing her efforts. The teacher begins the first musical activity, and Kambraya walks over to the instrument that she is assigned to. Laughter is among her and her peers, as they play on the percussion instruments all together. Kambraya walks back to her seat, and waits eagerly for the next activity. As music class goes on, she sings loudly and proudly. Kambraya stands up and participates in all the activities, and accurately performs call and response activities. As class comes to a close, Kambraya helps clean up the instruments, and lines up with the rest of the classmates, waiting until the teacher comes to pick them up.

Assignment 30: Final Reflection

What a semester it has been! Last week in our first set of final teaching lessons, Dr. Stauffer and my group talked about how this semester has been a thorough AND scaffolded progression from the start until now. This is very evident as I watch back the videos that I have of all my teachings, I can see even just the small journey that I have made as a teacher. I have noticed after rewatching these videos one of my biggest assets is the energy that I try and bring with my teaching. I think communicating effectively as a teacher is one of the most essential components that we strive to achieve as teachers, and I have worked practicing communicating to all types of students. Along with this idea, one thing that I think I have gained as an educator is an understanding or awareness of my teaching strategies. I am someone who likes to add several elements to a teaching lesson, and I feel more comfortable than I did starting this class in transitions, adding engaging and fun elements into the lesson, and most importantly threading the focus from beginning to end. The discovery process to understand who I am as a teacher and educator this semester has been one that I will be very grateful for! I have rediscovered my love for teaching, and the reason why I want to impact the lives of kids that I have never met before. I want to continue to learn and prepare myself so that I can give my future students endless amounts of knowledge and experiences that will shape their character. Teachers are a primary influencer and source of light, and I hope to bring that to my future teaching! What happens next? As the real world of teaching draws nearer and nearer, I want to really hone in each day on channeling my strengths and improving my weaknesses. The best thing about being an educator is that the education never stops, as there is always something new to learn!

Professional Development Workshop

This semester I had the opportunity to attend a professional development workshop, presented by Lynn Kleiner on October 21st, 2017. The title of this conference was “Orff Schulwerk: An Enchanted Journey,” put on by the Arizona Chapter of the American Orff Schulwerk Association. I thoroughly enjoyed this conference, as I had several take aways from it! It was neat to hear Lynn Kleiner’s experiences that lead her to where she is now, and why she has pursued the path that she is on now. Kleiner was full of energy, very personable, and really made the experience enjoyable! It was very apparent at this workshop that every teacher there could connect to Kleiner’s experiences and examples in one way or another! One thing mentioned in the beginning of this conference were the biggest problems first-year teachers have. The two main problems addressed were classroom management and transitions. I was very intrigued by these two ideas, and contemplated how much thought I put into these two areas. Kleiner talked about in a music classroom, our goal is to obviously make experiences the most musical that they can be. She repeatedly stated “less talk, more play,” during her examples, which was a catch phrase that has stuck with me sense. When integrating this phrase with the two biggest problems addressed, I started to think how as teachers, we help students receive the most out of a class period while trying to keep it under control. In addition, when thinking about how to plan out a lesson and keep the class running smoothly, how critical it is to be prepared! This was evident in Kleiner’s demonstrations, and she demonstrated different but successful transitions between different activities. For example, she built upon the first song that she introduced at the workshop, and used the catchy song as a way to transition from activity to activity by changing the words to the appropriate activities. I reflected how this tied back in to her idea of making experiences the most musical that they can be, and saw how simple yet effective these transitions were!

Another take away that I really enjoyed from Kleiner’s presentation was her ability to suggest and offer countless suggestions with just one activity. As we know children are innately musically inclined from a young age, and fostering these abilities in music education is so important! Kleiner touched a little on how educators need to not only utilize these abilities, but further stretch children’s range of comfort! What better way to do this then with music!

To conclude, the biggest take away that I had from this workshop was that there is no right or wrong way to teach music, but it is how much we choose to foster a diverse environment where children can learn music through all different ways that will make the most impact! During this workshop, Kleiner covered well over 10 songs that were fun, unique, and engaging! Yet, each time she introduced the song and activity, she brought a liveliness to it, and found a way for everyone to take part. As a future music educator, I hope to replicate and incorporate this practice into my own teaching. It is key in preparation to visualize, anticipate, and encourage success in a classroom, and in my own future classroom I hope to seize each moment and make them the most musical that I can!

Assignment 26: Reflection

Prior to taking this class, I underestimated the effectiveness and benefits that can come from recording yourself teach, regardless of how uncomfortable it may be to watch after! I felt proud of my lessons after teaching both part A and B of Assignment 25, and after reflecting on these experiences, there were several pros and cons to the overall teaching experience. I felt well prepared with the material presented, and felt that I was engaging from beginning to end. With my song about frogs, I tried to connect musical terms and ideas that I was focusing on with fun analogies that the “children” would be able to connect to. For example, I had each hold up their own “friendly frog,” and hop on their lilli-pad to the steady beat. I also felt that I prompted smooth transitions, and incorporated several musical elements into both lessons. When it came to adding in instruments, I made sure to solidify the rhythmic and melodic components, to where we could create a musical piece. I also felt like I took more time than needed, but sufficient time and effort to introduce the concept of “Re,” to where the children would understand. One of the biggest accomplishments that I am proud of after watching these two videos is seeing the level of comfortability and sense of initiative or leadership that I have taken with my teaching. I have played with what works and what doesn’t work with my teaching style, in this class and even in my clinical experience, and have tailored my strengths into my teaching.

There were also several aspects that I could work on and strengthen that would help improve my effectiveness as a teacher. One of the biggest issues is my organization of ideas. With that, I am not always clear with my intentions and thoughts. While rewatching my videos, I cringed hearing the excess amount of words I used to convey a simple direction, when I need to be clearer and more concise. I also use the word “I” in many of my directions, and need to take myself out of it. If I am confused with what direction my lesson is headed, I can only imagine how the students will feel. When lesson planning and preparing, it would be wise of me to not only thoroughly plan out the activities, but think through how I will conduct and carry my lesson plans through specific word choice and clear thoughts. Lastly, I dwindle sometimes on areas of learning or a specific idea that does not need as much attention. This could contribute to my lack of full attention to my student’s receptiveness. Finding that balance of teaching and awareness of students will be key in my future teaching! All in all, I feel confident in the work and preparation that I put into these assignments, and hope to only improve as a teacher and educator from here!

 

Assignment 19: Phase 1 of Final Project

For this semester’s internship, I am assigned to Emerson Elementary and Lehi Elementary School, giving me a taste of two very different school communities! Over the course of this semester, I have observed the schools and their communities, and and have researched further details that contribute to the make up of both schools. It was very interesting for me to take notice of the similarities and differences between the two.

Boundaries/Transportation

When comparing the two schools, which are both in the Mesa Unified School District, it is quite evident the difference in the boundaries feeding into the schools. Emerson Elementary stretches less then two miles both ways, while Lehi Elementary covers almost twice this boundary. This ultimately affects transportation to both schools. Emerson Elementary is immersed in a more run down neighborhood, where students either walk to school, or take a bus to school. On the other hand, Lehi Elementary is built in the farm areas of East Mesa, where a lot of the houses are of an older population. Therefore, all of the students are bussed in from all different directions.

School Statistics

The school statistics of these two schools fascinated me, as I have witnessed these standings just in the little time that I have spent there. At Emerson Elementary, a Title One School, the population is comprised of 52.7% of hispanic descent. Emerson has a student to teacher ratio of 20.1-1, and most recently in the 2015-2016 school year received a school letter grade of “C.” In addition, 67.1% of students at this school received free or reduced lunch. Lehi Elementary, a focus school according to its Title One status, is comprised of 62.1% of students with hispanic descent. This school has a student to teacher ratio of 13.6-1, and most recently received a school letter grade of “B.” Lastly, 77.8% of students receive free or reduced lunch.

Details of the Schools

The details of both of these schools were something I instantly noticed from my first initial encounters at the schools. Emerson Elementary, started in 1954, would be a school that I consider more run down. With hardly any color or patterns, the building makes a big square. Almost all of the classrooms are built in large portables, where it is very apparent that no significant remodeling has been done on the building. There is also one big chain gate that surrounds the school grounds. In regards to the music classroom, the class is shared with the Art classroom, therefore making it seem more cluttered then needed. The school has provided the music teacher here with several instruments, but nothing out of the ordinary or fancy. Lehi Elementary, started at its current location in 1978, appears more updated just by the outward looks of the building. Although there is not much color to the outer walls as well, the building is gated with clean iron bars, providing a secure feeling of protection on the campus. It is similar to Emerson Elementary as well that any revisions have evidently not been made for a very long time, as the walls are classrooms are built with brick. The music classroom here is nicer than the one at Emerson, as it is enclosed in its own building. This room is way more spacious, and has various instruments and technological tools that engage the students while teaching. Furthermore, upon asking my mentor teacher, both schools have handbooks, but he is not completely clear as to what both specifically entail.

 

If there is anything that I have learned from completely this first phase of my final project, it is that there are several components sometimes not taken into consideration that feed into the makeup of a school. It has been very interesting for me to take a step back from the teaching aspect of my clinical experience, and observe my surroundings at the two schools. I feel fortunate that I get to experience two different environments of a general music education classroom.

 

Assignment 23: HUMOR

Just speculating from the title, I was very intrigued about how humor would be connected to children and learning! This article makes me feel delighted in knowing that teaching children in a way that can be playful and still educational is pretty neat. I love how it says “humor” was found in the “connection of a concrete expression with a nonsensical item resulting in silliness,” because it demonstrates how “humor,” or that unique form of communication can be woven into the daily interaction with kids, and connected to personal connections. My only worry wth this idea of humor would be teachers who can distinguish when and when not to use humor, and to what extent.

Assignment 22: Reflection

What a fun experience it was to feel a glimpse of what it’s like to be a teacher! I am excited to have these videos at my use for future references, to not only see the areas of improvement that I need to make, but also the progress over the years as an educator! Overall, I feel confident as a leader, and having no trouble with directing and leading a group of people. Ofcourse I can and need to strive to be more personable with my students, definitely taking “I” out of a lot of my statements because I say it frequently, and generally develop a balance monitoring the learning that is occuring while still making music and enjoying it! For the overall plan itself, I took the time to thoroughly plan what I wanted to include in each lesson, but I think neglected to plan and prepare for things that maybe didn’t go or work as well as I had thought. My third video is the perfect example of this, where I wasn’t getting from A to B like I intended to, and dwelt to long on a certain spot. I believe my first two plans went pretty well to what was written, so I would adjust minor things with those two plans, but really hone in on my third lesson, and evaluate how I can make it more smooth! In addition, similar to my preparation with the three lessons, I felt most prepared and confident in the second lesson, where I facilitated the pace of the activity at a good length. The first lesson, I think having a couple more people would have helped the lacked of energy and engagement in the activity, which made it a little difficult to help keep a steady pace in learning. With that said, I know that those classes will happen in my future when the kids are not fully engaged in what is happening, and next time I’ll need to better prepare myself for these situations. The third lesson was definitely my weakest point in this three step activity, because I felt like my instructions were not concise and direct enough, and I didn’t finish up where I wanted and needed to. I review my lessons before I perform them, but I don’t really try a practice run through with them, and that is something that I am definitely going to start doing! This activity was definitely a learning experience for me, and I hope from here my improvements will only grow!

Assignment#20: Orff and Kodaly Readings

As a future educator, an essential thing that I hope to build on is the fact that there is no cap to the amount of learning and continual knowledge that we can absorb! After reading Jane Frazee’s and Sheila Scotts article, my thoughts have stirred as I contemplate teaching approaches and examples in and out of the classroom. Frazer discusses this idea of “making, making up, and making sense,” which was a tongue twister in itself to wrap your thoughts around. Within these three sections, the terms “artful,” “playful,” and “mindful” are associated to making , making up, and making sense. To me, the Orff practice encompasses musical making in a way that allows students to activately engage in the music, create the music, and analyze/discuss the music. Frazee mentions in the article how “to create we need both technique and freedom from technique” (Frazee, 9). Orff’s idea with play is something that is a proccess; one begins with learning and thinking, creating and improvising, and then processing and internalizing. In my own teaching, this could all be encompassed in a single activity, where the students are given the opportunity learn, express, and explore musical ideas.

On the other hand, Sheila Scott’s article emphasizes inquiry-based education through Kodaly teaching. I found it interesting that the three components of inquiry learning, as quoted in this article, were inquiry as a community of learners, students as questioners, and students as problem solvers. The idea of students taking control of their musicianship, based off of the teacher’s adherence and guidance is something I don’t of I have fully seen in my own clinical experience.  This type of practice, where “students are carefully guided from the unknown to the unknown,” teachers are enforced to “facilitate students’ muscianship by providing opportunities to develop performance skills” (Scott, 1-2). Music modeling is also another story strategy associated with teaching practice. Scott makes it clear though that the “recipes,” or core teaching principles of Kodaly are here, but “a good cook is always needed to prepare a delicious meal” (Scott, 5). I think the ultimate idea of Kodaly supports students in learning musical concepts, but feel stronger connected to Orff and its practices.

Ultimately, I believe both of these practices could be empowering for students in one way or another. Orff and Kodaly intentions lie in the fact that strengthening children musician’s skills are essential, and can be developed and explore to great extents. I would say in our own class, I believe that we tend to lean towards using Orff practices versus Kodaly. It is all a process, where we as teachers have a chance to let students’ creativity and imagination go!

Assignment #16: Lakeshore Zebras

As I was reading “The Lakeshore Zebras,” my mind was flourishing with envisions of these cutest kids mentioned playing and interacting so genuine and freely! In accordance with this reading, along with many of the readings that we have covered discussing children’s music, I am absolutely convinced that children possess so many innate musical abilities that be drawn on and explored! The children in this reading, ranging from the age of 24 months to 5 years old, seem to be nurtured with all the aspects that one would think a learning environment would have. For example, while learning takes precedence, social interaction and engagement, playtime, and even music time are incorporated into their day. Several examples of musicking were also mentioned in this article, including vocalizations of invented tunes and chants during playtime, creations of rhythmic patterns while playing in the sand or with objects, and use of many interval jumps with simple words phrases. In return, some “I can” statements that a teacher might write after observing the children’s musical skills would be “I can” create my own tune, “I can” repeat a chant or tune that someone else says, or even “I can” play with an object to a rhythmic pattern. Furthermore, after reading about Lakeshore Zebra’s informal musical experiences, the biggest idea that I would start with when creating a formal musical experience for this age would be that these children absorb of all the knowledge given to them. With that said, I would create experiences that would cater to the innate abilities that they already possess, while at the same time challenging them a little further to develop their musical skills. An example of this might be teaching them a song or tune that has a repeating chorus, or a part where they can create their own melody, phrase, rhythm, etc., and incorporate their imagination into the learning process. This age group would a fun group to work with, as they are still learning important things like social cues and manners, but when given the chance to explore and create, the possibilities are endless!