September 2008

Be kind to your music teacher friends!

September 18, 2008 19:57

Wednesday's fun (warning-a long vent below):
I should note that Monday at this school was a perfectly fine day with 11 classes of K-3 students who happily demonstrated the steady beat and sang with good pitch and enthusiasm. Wednesdays are always more challenging, as it is only 4th & 5th grade, and they come in their ability groupings carting books and all sorts of other stuff from their other classes. So on this Wednesday, I arrive at about 7:05 a.m. about 1 hour before report time. I spent almost an hour arranging the multi-purpose room (the room I share with everyone else) into a music room. It's a day of just 4th and 5th graders (fun in itself) and the 4th graders are all taking their ITBS test, so I am also thinking my first class will be open, giving me time to catch up on things. Well, at 7:50 a.m., a secretary walks in with someone, sees me, and says "oh no". You see, besides a testing day, it's also picture re-take day. I am itinerant, there every other day, so I didn't get that info. But it's still no big deal, 'cause I am not supposed to have that first class, and they will be done before I start teaching. I begin to stack chairs to get them out of the way for the photographer when someone makes an announcement for teachers to not forget to come to the cafeteria at 8:00 a.m. for a group picture. Again, I didn't get the message. I am wearing dark green and black, while everyone else is in a cheery yellow school t-shirt. So, I survive the sea of yellow and find the principal to ask about my schedule and room situation for the day. I actually had emailed that question 2 days prior but got no response. She tells me that she emailed me (apparently right before the picture, because I had just checked) and that I need to either go on the cart (book fair in my room for the next week, etc.) or that I can use the "learning cottage" that was vacated when enrollments shuffled 5th grade teacher to 3rd grade. So I decide on the room (even if it is a trailer, or excuse me "learning cottage"), as that seems better than a cart. So the custodian goes to open it up while I check my email before I go to the new digs. My email has a schedule for the day from one of the 5th grade teachers. It says I am going to see each 5th grade twice and no 4th grade. Fine, except I am supposed to be helping the 4th grade with a PTA program and the absolutely worst class was put on the schedule back to back (for 90 minutes). At this point, it is about 20 minutes to class time, and I have to haul 6 containers of recorders, CDs, CD player, and all sorts of miscellaneous stuff to the trailer (oops, did it again). I enter the room, only to find that it was never cleaned and left as it was 1 month ago. The custodian carried out about 6 bags of trash and I was left with the rest of the disaster. It is now about 10 minutes before class. So I pop by the "learning cottage" of the originator of my very strange schedule for the day and ask politely why I am seeing 5th graders twice. Well, of course, those 4th graders (the ones I am supposed to be helping learn songs for the PTA program) must catch up on all the math and social studies they've missed during testing (no wonder her students have the worst behavior in music class). So, it's time to start teaching. I don't even have enough chairs. My first class arrives. It's the wildest class first (so, a different order than I was told). They really don't care to sing, but since I am expecting to see them again, I need to save recorders for the second go round. A very long 45 minutes passes. I finish with them and wait for my next group. The teacher who created the schedule pops her head out and says, oh you will see 4th grade after all. The other 5th grade teacher doesn't know this new schedule either because she does not want to take in the wonderful students I am about to drop off. And so it goes for 3 classes. I usually teach 4 classes until my lunch, but a 4th class is not showing up, so I quick grab my lunch. Which is a good thing, because what would be my regular lunch is interrupted by the arrival of 4th graders, all squirrely from taking tests all morning. So I quit sweeping the floor and spend the rest of the day in an echoey metal box, finally working on their PTA songs. Only, of course, not all of them will be there, so some are singing beautifully, some are glaring at me because they can't start recorder until after this program is done, and some think they can get away with howling. Truly an excedrin moment.

Now, on my other days, I am teaching my string classes at an arts magnet school. I tune 44 violins/violas/cellos during my lunch so I can start 3rd graders without a huge down time. I teach Twinkle before school at 7:45 a.m. and pull about 80 other kids out of class twice a week. And guess what? Those students are the ones scoring the highest on the tests. Just like the research says. And while my classroom there is floating between an auditorium and the media center, there are no teachers treating me like I am a speck of dirt on the floor. Grrr...

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September 4, 2008 19:46

106. That's how many string players I have at the arts magnet elementary that makes up half of my job. That's about 25% of the student body. This school is successful at providing a quality education to a diverse student body in the inner city. Besides my strings classes, students have weekly art, music, dance, and creative writing. This morning, one of my beginning Suzuki students proved she had been doing her listening by playing a good chunk of Twinkle (we just started using fingers the previous class ). Her mother, a single parent who works all night at the jail, makes the effort to get her daughter to a 7:45 a.m. class three times a week. My students can't spend thousands on instruments or private lessons. I use whatever equipment I have available and we just go for it. And somehow it works.

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