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Flipping my Studio Class as a Heckler

Penny Kruse

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Published: January 30, 2015 at 11:22 PM [UTC]

Last Friday, I had the best time at my studio seminar or violin class with my students. During lessons that week, I sensed that my students were not practicing enough technique and also that they did not always read my e-mails. I had planned that this studio class would be on technique. During my Thursday morning lessons, I decided that I should assign each student different exercises to teach. I told the students I taught that day to expect an e-mail late that night with instructions and that they were welcome to tell their studio mates to be on the lookout.

I was busy and did not get to making the assignments until almost 10 p.m. that night. I uploaded all the materials for the students. Each student was instructed to bring copies of what they were teaching.

The next day, I met them all at the room and asked if everyone had read my e-mail. Everyone said "yes!" Then, I asked if they had made copies and I was told, "Of course. You told us to." Great so far!

We took our places and I let the students volunteer to determine the order. As the students started teaching, I noticed that their instructions were not clear and they were giving out incomplete or inaccurate information. Some students did not speak loudly enough to be heard. I wondered how I could tell them that they needed to be better teachers without embarrassing them in front of their peers. On the spot, I decided to really embarrass them and be a heckler! I complained, objected, questioned and interrupted, using all of the standard things we hear as teachers. Do we have to do all of this? My teacher told me to do it differently. Can I just do it my own way? Is this going to be on the test? I need to leave early. Quickly the students caught on and started heckling their classmates. Each student in the teacher role became more and more frazzled and confused. Some of the students even became irritated and glared at me, asking if I had a problem. I answered that I was fine and didn't understand why the teacher was picking on me. When the last student got up to teach, we were truly out of time. I asked the leader if she could just cover the material quickly, because I needed to know what would be on the test, but I really had to leave. I started packing up my violin and music. The leader kept looking at me. I said, "Sorry. I don't mean to interrupt, but I really have to leave." The response was "Well, you are interrupting!" I walked out of class with a huge smile on my face!

This week I asked the students what they thought about the seminar and they said it was fantastic! They learned about the challenges of conveying difficult concepts and about the frustrations of maintaining control of a disruptive classroom! I got across the message that they need to spend more time practicing technique and be sure to read my e-mails!

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