Back To Basics

Reader Appreciation Month didn’t quite turn out the way I had envisioned it would. That is primarily my fault. As I sit here, I realize there are some things that I used to do with blogging that I don’t do any longer. I have decided it’s time for me to change some things. You may or may not notice the changes as I begin implementing them. If you do, great. If not, then perhaps it is simply a change to the way I approach blogging. Whatever the case, it’ll be good.

How can I apply this to my classroom?
How many times do we get into the habit of being so familiar with the subject matter that it no longer retains the excitement it once did? Is it possible that we are losing focus — or focusing on the wrong things — simply because we have begun to be better teachers? Is our classroom management so good that we have lost touch with the students? We keep them in line, their behavior is perfect, but they can’t stand our class.

No, that’s not me. My kids love my class.

Really? Is it possible that we need to spend Thanksgiving break (or this weekend, or tonight, or whenever) going back to the place in our mind when we didn’t know what we were doing, but we did everything we knew how to do to make our classroom enjoyable? Wait…

Maybe I’m only talking to myself here
I’m sure your class behaves perfectly, laughs and smiles throughout the whole class every day of the year. If that’s the case, then I’m not talking to you. Go back to your empty classroom. <grin>

This year has been so different than any other year I have ever taught. As a general rule, the kids just flat out love me. I have had almost ten students bring me and the other band director breakfast tacos (remember, I do live on the border), cookies, candy, empanadas, etc. We regularly have students come in and visit during their lunches (there’s always a class going on in the band hall) or even between classes.

But I also know there are some students who are scared of me or just don’t like me. It’s time for that to stop. It’s time for me to make up in my mind that I will no longer yell at children.

I’ve done that before, and I don’t yell at individuals like I used to do. But I do find myself from time to time getting frustrated with groups making the same mistake over and over again. I also notice that I have a habit (much less now than ever before, but still occasionally) of getting a bit animated when I am working on music.

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Simply because I don’t interpret that behavior as yelling doesn’t mean that the students don’t. I must remind myself that, while they make the same mistake other people have made in the years I’ve been teaching, they are still people, they are still learning, and they are still trying to play their music right.

I believe that is the key. They’re not out to get me.

About Joel Wagner 522 Articles
Joel Wagner (@sywtt) began teaching band in 2002. Though he had a lot of information, his classes were out of control. He found himself tired, frustrated, disrespected by students, lonely, and on the brink of quitting. He had had enough. He resigned from his school district right before spring break of his second year and made it his personal mission to learn to be a great teacher. So You Want To Teach? is the ongoing story of that quest for educational excellence.

3 Comments on Back To Basics

  1. I had gotten bored with teaching and was seriously considering a career change, even though I have always loved teaching, when I realized that I had quit learning. I wasn’t reading in the field any more; I wasn’t going to conferences; I wasn’t presenting.

    At a job interview (not the best place for that to happen) I realized that I had not done anything to improve my teaching in about three years. So I sat on my bum and took an online class. Got on the net surfing for calls for papers and presentations and generally anything that would get me back out of the nest and flying and started doing those things.

    So I could really relate to your comment on losing the excitement.

  2. Sadly, I have become a yeller and I hate it. I did not grow up in a home of yelling so when I do it..it pains me. I’m going to make a strong effort next year to control my yelling. Thanks for the post!

    • No problem, rach. I too find that I yell too much. Any time I’m yelling at a kid, it’s too much and it’s because I haven’t planned ahead about how I’m going to respond.

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