Our students are dealing with so much in their lives. The Annie Casey Foundation  website states that more than one in five children experience multiple adverse experiences.  You probably have children whose parents knowingly or unknowingly provide negative feedback, sometimes within earshot of other people. Other parents (and teachers!) can have unrealistically high expectations of their students. Quite a few students are  bullied . Other students have difficulty with standard learning and test taking. All of these situations can contribute to a closed mindset. What is a closed mindset? According to Dr.Diana Allan of Missouri Southern State Univ ersity, a mindset is "the lens through which we view our world". (Source, clinic at Missouri Music Educators Conference). People with closed mindsets: Avoid challenges Give up easily See efforts as fruitless Ignore useful negative feedback Are threatened by the success of others  On the other hand, people wit...
       I was excited to get into my new music room this week. I knew it had a large closet from my interview tour, even though I really didn't get to investigate it all that much. I knew that my position, a second music teacher, had been filled by a full-term substitute who wasn't a certified music teacher, but a preschool teacher. I knew she had only taught PreK-2 music. And it's all good! I had experience starting from scratch, with little to no music equipment. And I knew that the other music teacher in the building had taught 3-5, so she had the instruments and the piano. I was already primed to write grants, do Donors Choose, and to put my "Orff without instruments" and my Kodàly training to good use without relying on lots of money. However, when I saw the closet: Actually, I wasn't terrified. There were "dumpsters on wheels" in the hall. The principal, however, was astounded at the non-musical things in the closet. (She is ne...
Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks: Going into a New Position After Years in a Previous One First of all, it's been more than a year since I have posted in my blog or kept up with my store. But the good news is: I have finally completed my Ph.D.! It was a terrific, terrifying, rewarding, and revealing process for me, one about which I will blog later. As I was working on my dissertation, many other things had to take a back burner, and that's OK! So, 2018-2019 has brought quite a few changes for my family. My oldest daughter and her husband will be moving closer to home. My youngest got married in fall, 2018 (so I cheat on the year a little). We adopted an adorable 2-year-old mama dog in 2018. I completed my  Kodály  Level III in 2019. AND, I graduated with my Ph.D. AND retired! Well, maybe not..... The game plan my husband and I developed for me several years ago was to get my Ph.D., work three years, and then retire with that nice bump in retirement salary (our three ...
I'm bringing this back in summer, 2020, because I feel music teachers, actually all teachers, need extra emotional support. Even though I'm retired, I am feeling the pain for you. I know your worries, your frustrations, your concerns, your fears. And I am going to fight for teachers in whatever way I can. This isn't exactly the blog I had planned, but it hits home. I've been behind lately because the realities of teaching this year have put me in a tired mood when I get home. And, I've noticed it quite a bit on posts in music educator Facebook groups lately. The wonder about exhaustion. The frustrations with new and differing forms of classroom management issues. The feeling of loneliness and lack of respect because the music teacher is most likely the only one of that discipline in a building. New requirements for teachers on top of what feelings like growing animosity towards teachers. Not to mention outside stressors. The political scenarios. Natur...
We've seen the commercials, videos, and memes.... The famous Booking.com commercial (that doesn't really make the teacher look that good professionally, but I'm not getting into that argument. But let's face it. I'll wager the vast majority of us know how that teacher is feeling, even though we probably have better attempts at classroom management than she does.). Or it's like this: We have kids who are expected to not only know their letters, but need to be ready to read by midterm. We have kids who aren't just counting, they're counting and grouping. We have kids who attending school since infanthood. We have kids who have a couple of years of preschool. We have kids who never had preschool. We have kids whose parents spent time playing music to Mommy's tummy and reading to the child in the womb, playing music constantly, and singing to their children. We have kids whose parents plop them in front of the TV.  We have kids whose paren...
First posted on August 10, recopied with a few updates: In Missouri, one of our music objectives is teaching first graders about singing in head voice. As we know, this is important for vocal health, to save the throat and to encourage children to sing in their natural ranges. We use sirens, scarves, and other tricks. I am always looking for new ways to utilize my ever-growing collection of puppets in new ways. This year (2016) , I had a brainstorm. Two years ago, I used a Merlin cap as part of the sixth grade program. I will admit, I'm lazy. My costumes are housed in our school basement in a corner of the STEM closet. Somehow, the Merlin hat didn't make it to the box, and I really didn't want to go downstairs to put it away. So, the hat ended up on my boy Folkmanis puppet we had named Wolfie (for Mozart, from the movie  Amadeus ).  This year, I looked at the hat, and Wolfie, in a whole new light. The hat remained, and I renamed Wolfie to the much more dignified name...