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Student Teaching Week One

  October 8th, 2018

My choral teaching area is a common area stage that is sectioned off by a velvet curtain. It’s a large rectangular room with concrete walls and wood floors. There are three rows of plastic chairs, two large white boards right behind the piano, and a couple of tables in the back of the room. There is a large air return in the upper left hand corner of the room that provides a high level of decibels that requires anyone teaching to speak through microphone/audio system, that sits at the front of the room with all other technology, to avoid vocal fatigue. The side walls have an assortment of posters with uplifting or motivational phrases, giving the students the view that it’s a safe space filled with support, as well as music theory posters at the front surrounding the white boards. During in-service week, my CT and I rearranged the bookshelves, moving them from a back corner to the front corner next to the door, and we added a large word-wall. I feel like this has made the work space for the students more accessible.

My band teaching area is a smaller room that used to serve as the choir room before the cafeteria/common area needed more space. It also has concrete walls, but hard linoleum floors. There are some shelves in the back for instrument storage and small stair case where stands are stored. There are two pianos, one in the front of the room and one in the back, as well as two whiteboards at the front with music theory posters surrounding it as well. There is a small computer/AV system that sits at the front of the room for whenever it’s needed. The area is a little more stark in comparison to the choral area, but my CT does have plans to do some painting in the somewhat near future, some of which would consist of artistic representation of American band history and some would consist of staves and fingering charts.

My choral CT was originally a science teacher who decided to go back to school for music education, which they have now taught choral music for five or six years. They received their Bachelor of Science from Oregon State University and their Master’s of Arts of Teaching from Western Oregon University. They grew up around music and has continued to participate in community musicals to maintain a social atmosphere of music, and they used participate in roller derby. My CT teaches four 55-minute classes, one 30-minute class, and receives a 40-minute prep. Their 30-minute class is known as PRIDE, which is most like a homeroom class. They also teach a 6th grade Music & Film class, 6th grade choir, Concert Choir (a mix of 7th and 8th grade), and Varsity Choir (a mix of 7th and 8th grade who perform at festivals – they are expected to learn more, faster). From day one, my CT builds a routine with the students to ensure a smooth running ship whenever she is or is not there.

My band CT has been a high school and middle school band director for upwards of around 15-20 years (I’ve never really been able to get a straight answer from them). They went to St. Olaf College and they currently play trombone in a couple of funk and punk bands that tour the west coast multiple times a year. My CT teaches at both the high school and the middle school, split pretty evenly between the two. They begin with a Zero Period Jazz band at the high school, comes to the middle school to teach three 55-minute class (Beginning Band [6th grade], Intermediate Band [7th & 8th grade], & Advanced Band [7th & 8th grade]) with a 30-minute prep, and then goes back to the high school to teach two more bands and run a pep band for the high school athletics. Their tactics of routine are, in some ways, more relaxed than my choir CT’s and are, in some way, more strict than my choir CT’s routine. Overall, my band CT is much more “chill” and always makes it apparent that they’re “never mad, just doesn’t want anything broken”. Each CT, in their own right, creates some pretty cool relationships with their students even though their tactics of routine differ, and it’s quite a sight when you get the two in the same room (they’re awesome friends and so supportive of each other).

Student Teaching – Week One

  October 8th, 2018

The classroom where I am student teaching has an interesting atmosphere surrounding it. To start with, the entire performing arts department is in a separate building from the rest of the school, so just making it to the band room requires more time than given between classes. When students get there (often late), they are greeted with a monochromatic paint-job and a cluttered space. There is a severe lack of storage options, so instruments are often brought home and school horns have a designated space on the floor. Despite the cluttered atmosphere, amazing work gets done in that room. The school has 31 state titles in jazz and individual students frequently place top in the state in solo and ensemble competitions.

There’s a common saying that people often look like their dog; the same thing could be said for band directors and their rooms. My cooperating teacher may seem like they are holding on by the seat of their pants, but they know exactly what is going on and they are in control – their method may look messy, but it works for them. This kind of directing style can only work after so many years of teaching; my C.T. just started their 35th  year. They teach 5 ensembles between 7:30 am and 2:00 pm, with only a short break for lunch, which is often taken up helping students practice. Over the course of their career, they have mastered the organized chaos and built a thriving program with over 200 students in a school of 1,800. (source: US News; https://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/oregon/districts/west-linn-wilsonville-sd-3j/west-linn-high-school-16684)

Physical setting and cooperating teacher, post 1:

  October 8th, 2018
  1. The classroom at my high school is large with a set of new risers taking up the majority of the room. There are two pianos: one grand, one upright. The students painted a mural of their school’s name with a treble and bass clef on the wall above the pull down projection screen. The cerwin hand signs are displayed on the wall along with several inspirational quotes. I feel as though the room is not too distracting and is a calming environment for the students to be in.
  2. My cooperating teacher has an intricate background in teaching. She received her undergraduate degree at University of Oregon and her Master’s at Oregon State University. Upon graduating with her Master’s degree, she taught an Albany middle school choir for a few years. She was then asked to teach middle school choir in the Salem-Keizer school district for several years. Finally, she reached the high school level while also teaching at the local middle school in the Hillsboro area. As of a year ago, she only teaches at the high school and is full time. I feel as though that my cooperating teacher brings a positive attitude to each of her classes, despite a particularly difficult group of girls in one class.

Student teaching “Week one”

  October 7th, 2018

Our music room is large, clean, and fairly well equipped. The walls are sparsely decorated; everything that is hung on the walls has immediate teaching relevance, so there is little to cause distraction.. There is a world map, and portrait of the composer of the month, a chart of basic rhythms, the solfege scale with hand signs, and class rules. The risers take up one side of the class; they are not used much. The carpet on the other side of the room is where the kids sit in a grid. My CTs pride themselves on their seating chart system, as they find it helps with classroom management. They meticulously plan where each child goes in the grid, based on their past experiences with the child’s behavior.

My main CT has a choral background, a Master’s in conducting, and she also plays quite a bit of piano. She is originally from out of state. My other CT has a degree in piano. She has less teaching experience because she started later (like me). I have great respect for my CTs and their classroom management techniques, though it does at times feel quite strict. I understand that there is little room for error when you are dealing with 9 classes per day of 30 kids each. Personally though, I think it’s ok to lighten up a little, if only to conserve energy. I have to admit there feels like quite a bit of pressure to conform at this school. Not necessarily in appearance, but in attitude.

Welcome to the Student Teaching Blog

  October 2nd, 2018

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