Music Teachers Should Not Do Make Up Lessons

Here is a very well written article articulating why private music teachers should not be expected to make up missed lessons.

http://ottawasuzukistrings.ca/makeuplessons/

Manifesto

The Oxford Dictionary defines Inclusion as: “1. The action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure; 1.1 A person or thing that is included in the whole”[1]. In order to state my intentions of inclusion within my classroom setting I have created a manifesto to clearly mark the various points of inclusion that I believe to be important in every classroom in every school, why I believe they are important and how I will implement them into my classroom and teaching practice.

All students must be included and have the right to learn in a positive learning environment, no matter their race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, physical or mental abilities or disabilities. It is the responsibility of teachers to follow the guidelines of the MELS competencies and in this instance, MELS competency 7, “To adapt his or her teaching to the needs and characteristics of students with learning disabilities, social maladjustments or handicaps”.

Within my classroom and learning environment, I will ensure that all students feel that they are in a safe and respected environment that will promote learning on all levels and will make every effort to accommodate the various needs of all students. By providing opportunities for socialization within different peer groups, all students have an equal chance to make friends and learn from each other. I feel that it is important for students to socialize in order to gain appreciation and understand the differences of others, be able to learn from these differences and have mutual respect.

The learning environment is also a critical aspect of inclusion. All students must be able to participate in all aspects of learning, no matter their needs. Means of support for students with special needs will be provided, whether it is in the form of an aid or an environmental adjustment. If there are adaptations to the environment based on students needs, they will be addressed and made accordingly.

When planning field trips, they will be planned with every student in mind so that every student is able to participate and gain experiences from the field trip.

My teaching style is flexible and will be adjusted to meet the needs of every student in my class. Whether students are auditory, sensory, kinaesthetic, or visual learners, all learning styles will be addressed throughout the school year so that all students will have the opportunity to discover their personal leaning style and benefit in learning to the fullest extent.

The support of parents and families is encouraged in my classroom environment and I value input from parents when addressing individual students needs. I believe that the core values of inclusion are take seed at home and I will work with parents in order to create the most inclusive environment possible.

In order for positive learning to take place, it is essential to provide an inclusive and safe environment. To build community, promote self esteem and provide learning opportunities, no matter a students background or abilities, my classroom will provide an inclusive environment in which all students will have the opportunity to be leaders and work together as a cohesive unit.

[1] Inclusion. 2014. In oxforddictionaries.com

Retrieved September 30, 2014, from       http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/inclusion

Volunteering for QBA Honor Band Weekend

In volunteering for the Quebec Band Association’s Honor Band weekend on February 7, 2015, I was happy to be a part of what was clearly such a monumental weekend for young musicians. While I am usually seeing things from the teacher or the clinicians point of view, I felt I was given an even deeper insight into how things work behind the scenes at an Honor Band workshop and in how the organizers, who are music teachers themselves, implemented MELS competency 6, “To Plan, organize and supervise a class in such a way to promote students’ learning and social development”. As a result of the workshops being held on the weekend and at Vanier College, the organizers and school staff were required to cooperate with parents and the community Cégep in order to facilitate this learning experience for the music students. This is exemplified in MELS competency 9, “To cooperate with school staff, parents, partners in the community and students in pursuing the educational objectives of the school”.

I arrived at Vanier College at 8:15, slightly less awake then I wanted to be but thanks to the fact that there was coffee in the volunteer room, I managed to perk up. This made me realize a very important aspect if I am ever to run a band weekend, always have coffee for the volunteers. In fact, the women who arrived shortly after I did came with bagels, cream cheese, jam and an assortment of delicious snacks. They were kind enough to offer food and coffee to all the volunteers, band directors and clinicians who came early in the morning. No one would be going hungry this day.

In addition to the food that was available in the volunteer room, I was impressed as to how well organized the morning was. There were clear signs to show students where to go, denoted by Junior/Senior Band and instrument. In addition to the signs, there were a number of us who, as volunteers were asked to stand at the entrance and direct students to the proper room. I was assigned to help the Junior Honor Band clarinets into their sectional room and help the clinician with anything he needed. According to the sheet I was given I was even required to get the clinician “water” or anything asked for. As I am usually a clinician on these weekends, I knew for a fact that this would be unnecessary and unwanted attention for the clinician however I stuck around to get a feel just in case.

As the clarinets were in the clinic, I felt my time would be best spent listening to the workshop that was given to the Senior Band by the visiting conductor so I made my way to the auditorium. This workshop was highly recommended to me by a few of the organizers and apparently the conductor was excellent. During the workshop I was quite surprised to find that the level of the students’ performance was quite a bit below what I expected to hear from a Senior Honor band. I realize that I have been lucky enough to hear and work with some very high caliber honor bands such as Royal West but nonetheless I was surprised. I was also quite disappointed in the guest conductors’ workshop. I felt that most of the points he was making seemed to only confuse the students. For example, at one point during the workshop he began telling them that in this particular piece, 3/4 time was not actually 3/4 time. It was not that he was incorrect in the subject matter but the deliverance was very unclear, especially for students this age. This was the second time in a year I was witness to an incredibly confusing workshop given by a guest conductor. It is unfortunate for the students who have to try to make sense of what is being said but think it is good for me to see these types of workshops. Using what I witness, I can choose to tailor my teaching and conducting to be as clear as possible.

At the end of the morning I left feeling happy with the fact that I had volunteered for such a worthwhile event. The organization was incredible and despite the fact that I overheard some confusing details in the band workshop, I feel that this weekend was very helpful to the music students who participated. I am sure that by participating in honor band, these students will make lifelong friends and have experiences that they will remember forever. I am sure that many of these students will end up in university music programs and will remember the good they learned while spending time with other musicians and mentors.