It's the first day back to school for teachers. What better way to start the day than a 3 hour meeting discussing departmental policies? Then I am hanging posters and cleaning school instruments. WOW.
My first official teacher day back is July 30, but it's already starting. I have a box of worksheets to staple and a pile of instrument loan forms to prepare. My packets of Suzuki violin materials are in progress. A few middle school orchestra scores have been edited. Wedged-shaped shoulder sponges and German bass bows are on order. The official back to school e-mails and letters are starting to appear. In another few days, I expect I'll have the usual itinerant's schedule that orders me to be at three required activities at once. I picked up my keys at one school today, but I really can't do anything in the room yet, as they are still installing technology stuff. Amidst it all, I've been really pondering how to positively redirect those not-appropriate-for-school-or-anywhere-else habits that will have reappeared in some of my middle school students. OK. Back to the end of my vacation now!
I finished my book 1 Suzuki training on Saturday. 28 hours of lecture, 15 hours of observation, and the 6 hr ECC course to start it all. I sent my $10 off on Monday to get "registered, not certified". And how will I use all of this? I have a nice little outline of how someone might teach book 1-previews, preparations, etc. I now know after buying William Starr's the Suzuki Violinist that all that same information is contained within his book. The observations watching a variety of people teaching were helpful. I learned some pretwinkle activities and a few games that will be helpful in my group lessons. I enjoyed hearing the play-ins and recitals, and it's refreshing to see kids and parents involved with each other in a positive way. However, I think it is really presumptious to conclude someone's parenting is lacking if a student exhibits problematic behaviors or is not progressing in a certain way. And while I can appreciate the desire to maintain Suzuki's pedagogical traditions, I did not like it when assertions were made that a teacher was doing something drastically wrong if they did not teach the literature exactly as Suzuki might. And I really don't believe you have damaged your students ability to internalize the piece by actually looking at the music on occasion. My public school Suzuki students will be orchestral players in middle school and must read well, so I think that it's really okay to teach a variety of etudes, instead of always going back to Perpetual Motion. I did feel a bit like I might be in a scientology/amway meeting when we were required to attend an SAA meeting and had to discuss how to get parents to join the SAA. It's interesting to have a foot in both styles of teaching. I am not quite ready to toss out Rolland & Applebaum just yet. There is quite a lot of excellent "traditional" pedagogy out there these days, and in reality, an experienced teacher will pick and choose whatever is necessary to create a successful learning environment.
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