The Fourth Year: Entering The Special Place Personal by Joel Wagner - July 31, 2007July 5, 20100 In the Band Director world, the fourth year in a school district is a special year. When I got my first job, I remember that it was my boss’ fourth year in that school district. Everything at the high school is more special during the fourth year than it has been in previous years. I think this concept also applies to most high school coaches as well as elementary elective teachers. Why? There are a number of reasons that this is a special year. The first is that I have been to every high school football game and marching competition that every student in the high school band has been involved in. This year’s seniors have gone through high school with me assisting the marching band and teaching occasional sectionals throughout the school year. They know me and have grown up with me. They are MY first senior class, MY first freshman class in this district. This means that everyone in the band is much more likely to listen to and respect my ideas and opinions. That makes it fun! The second reason this is a special year is because of the freshman class. As the only beginning band director for the first two years in this district, this year’s freshman class has been through their entire band lives with me as a band director. I may not have been directly involved on a daily basis with them for two years, but they still hold a special place in my heart. This was the first time as a teacher that I truly loved my students and wanted to do everything I could to make them successful. I still do. An added bonus for me this year is that I will be moving up with the beginners I taught last year. We have a separate sixth grade campus, then the students all go to the middle school. This year, I get to transition over to the middle school with them and teach one of the bands over there. It will be primarily made up of 7th graders. Even the 8th graders will be students I taught two years ago, for the most part. Yesterday was the official beginning of my fourth year in this district, and my sixth year as a teacher. Needless to say, I am excited about this year more than any year of my teaching career so far. I think it’s going to be the most successful year of my professional life. I better enjoy it while it lasts. Unless I strive to make the NEXT YEAR even better. Joel WagnerJoel 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.