Last weekend, I had the opportunity to work with high school students for the first time in over a year. I was just providing some guidance for a marching band pit (or the more politically correct, front ensemble) for one day. I must say that I had an AMAZING day with AMAZING kids - the perfect antidote for some of my grad school blues.
Two days later, I watched Caitlin McGovern, a good friend and a fellow music teacher fighting the good fight, give a presentation to some older music education undergraduates. She spoke candidly and with extreme passion about her own journey as a music teacher - one that started as a “traditional" band "director" and ends with her focusing on the unique needs of individual children. It was a presentation that few in music education seem to give. By acknowledging weaknesses in her pedagogy and philosophy, Caitlin is able to gain strength as a teacher and as a person. And, in the end, this is wonderful news for both her and her students.
Since you probably weren’t there, I am pleased to share a new blog that Caitlin has started writing titled, “Kids are Awesome”. The subtitle is perfect:
"One music teacher’s search for what matters."
It’s a journey that we should all take. We should wrestle with our declining enrollments, our varied musical tastes, our relevance in an political culture of assessments and national standards, our adherence to “tradition”, our director-centric attitudes, our approach to pedagogy, our responsibility within our communities, and anything else that will have a positive impact on those that we serve - our students.
So, I strongly encourage you to visit Caitlin’s blog! She’s not the only person I know who is taking this journey (hopefully, we all are), but I feel confident in her ability to be a good tour guide. Don’t we all need one?
"And on the left, you’ll see your students. No two are alike - each one has unique desires, talents, and needs. In order to survive, it’s important that we make a space in our classroom for them to explore, play, learn, take risks, and feel safe. It’s a big responsibility, but it’s definitely worth it. After all, kids are awesome!”