What does this phrase mean to you? As we approach, or have started, a new school year, how might you consider this phrase when working with your students. In our own school, our students participated in rallies, sit-ins, and marches-during and outside of school. This summer, our neighboring community, St. Paul public schools, lost a member of their support staff to what has been best understood as racially charged violence. Our students at South are a very diverse group, whereas our teaching staff is not. However, what is wonderful about the teaching staff at South is that we recognize this disparity and we are doing the best we can to bring these conversations to the forefront of what is going on in the classroom. Some people might say that this is anti-racism education, which, in itself, is a much more in-depth pedagogy than just talking about differences.
Next week, students are coming into our school. Some of them may be returning to South, some may be brand new to South and our culture here, some may be brand new to this country and don't speak a lick of English. It is our job as educators to embrace these differences and encourage student's to use their voice, their experiences and backgrounds in the classrooms. Dare I say, sometimes the content is less important than the experiences of building relationships with our students.
There are a few of us that are working on getting this phrase made into poster and underneath having "South Teachers for Racial Equity" added. Many of our students have felt silenced or discriminated against because of their cultural or perceived racial identity, and we want them to know that we do see them, we do hear them, and we believe IN them. What would happen if we adopted this mentality in all of education.
I just completed my oral exams for my written comprehensives this past Friday down at ASU. I have found that this part of the journey is different for each school. I am thankful that my professors allowed me to write my own questions, so there weren't any surprises. Each test (there are three of them) is timed-four hours of writing. They were extremely intense, but I learned SO much from the overall experience. I have learned that I found some new pedagogy interests as well as research interests. Additionally, I have learned via Friday's exam, that I need to start thinking more deeply about what I am reading and interrogate my own beliefs, what has been written and what could be written. There were times when I thought I understood certain concepts and ideas, and I think I do understand concepts (read: hegemonic norm) but it's now time to start digging further.
In preparing for these tests I kept going back to several books. I have found that sometimes we don't read books cover to cover!!! Gasp! In fact, there is no way that I could have survived if I would have read these cover to cover, but I definitely read a good chunk of them and have found them invaluable resources in my research and in my thoughts about teaching. You are not reading a literature review here, not even a summary of these books, but just my two-cents.
The Oxford Handbook of Social Justice in Music Education is in my mind, probably one of the most important books to have been published recently in music education. It brings together some of the top thinkers in music education, as well as non-music educator thinkers and confronts social justice issues head on. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is teaching K-12 or higher education.
Randal Allsup's 2016 book Remixing the Classroom: Toward and Open Philosophy of Music Education is a beautiful book. I first became acutely aware of how much I appreciated Allsup's philosophy on learning and teaching in his 2015 MEJ article "Our Both/And Movement" (another recommended read). This book continues that conversation, but also suggests that we are not preparing teachers to teach in an evolving classroom. I'm not done with this book quite yet, but am looking forward to continuing the journey.
Drs. Vicki Lind and Constance McKoy published this book early 2016 and it is a gold mine of information. It presents the historical elements of culturally responsive teaching and provides rich pedagogical implications as well as realistic applications of culturally responsive teaching in music classrooms. I am excited to continue reading this as well as the school year kicks off.
After a long hiatus, I am ready to start blogging again about my teaching experiences. For a while, I had a nice blog that documented my experiences teaching middle school music. When I went back to school full time, that went by the wayside, even though I had every intention of documenting my experiences at ASU as well, but that gave way to hours of reading and writing for classes, so writing for fun wasn't really on the top of my list of things to do. Either way, I am back and excited for this new blog and for another year of teaching.
I am so grateful for this upcoming year. I really do love my job at South. It will be my second year here, but I feel like I have been there for ten. Nothing beats an incredibly supportive admin, fantastic colleagues, and the most amazing students. Sure, there are frustrating days-any job can be frustrating, especially when we work with humans. Let's be honest, we are not perfect :) However, I feel like this is my home. I finally feel like I can be who I am as a human. I feel trusted that I am making the right decisions and if I have questions I have countless people I can talk to. It's great!
This blog is going to be a bit of a hybrid in terms of what I talk about. My philosophy on learning and teaching has certainly evolved since I started teaching in 2003, but it has changed immensely since I began my graduate studies at ASU two years ago. Truly, I could not have imagined, even 5 years ago, that I would be at my current job and loving it so much. I have to credit ASU with being so life changing. So, sometimes this blog will delve into that, but today I am writing about organization!!
For years and years, my standard lesson planning tool was a notebook. Each class got a notebook designated for them. Here i would write down my lesson plans (in bulleted form), reminders, to-dos...etc. It worked for me. I also used a calendar for important dates as well. This year, I am attempting to be a bit more tech savvy and will be using Chalk.com, a FREE online planning tool for teachers. One of the reasons that I am trying this out is because I am going to be creating larger project-based units and this will be an easier way for me to embed smaller lessons into the units, and have it all at my fingertips (seriously, what did we do before the cloud?!). Additionally, if I felt it necessary, I can share the lessons with students-which would be incredibly helpful if students are out multiple days. I have been playing around with it and seems pretty user friendly. What planning tools do you use? Please share!
I will do my best to blog once a week. I think that is a good goal for myself. Thanks for stopping by and reading and please feel free to comment below!