Not The Best Day Ever General by Joel Wagner - February 19, 2008July 2, 201010 Today was a pretty good day in parts. In fact, most of my classes went really well. Except for my percussion class. It has been bad since the middle of December. This is slightly abnormal for me, but the following post is a narrative with a question and plea for help at the end. Why is my percussion class getting out of hand? Because I have two different groups of students in there. Since the director I work with had a stroke, I have been the only band director at my school. This makes my work load heavier, but manageable for the most part. The percussion is the exception because it is a combination of percussionists from two different bands. The problem comes when I try to rehearse music with them students. They are in two different bands, and so they have two different sets of music to work on. This means there is a whole lot of idle time for the kids. It comes right after the 7th graders have lunch, and right before the 8th graders have lunch, so focus is very hard to maintain. As a band director in Texas, grades play a huge role in my preparation. State law mandates that students who do not pass all of their classes for the six weeks are ineligible to participate in extracurricular activities. This include band competitions. As a result, I try to stay on top of the grade situation pretty well. I checked yesterday and found that 7 of the 13 percussionists in my band and 4 of the 8 percussionists in the other band are failing classes. They have now eight school days to get all of those class grades up to a passing level. As we were going through assigning parts for the music that I passed out today, one of them got assigned the triangle part, and another one told me that she really wanted to play triangle. I noticed that she was playing something on the other two competition pieces, and some of them were only playing on one. I made an offhand comment to that, “you can play the triangle part when he fails.” As a band director, I have to do a whole lot of talking and performing for the class (as opposed to being able to have quiet reading time or whatever). That makes things a bit challenging as times. Admittedly, I should have used the word if instead of when. I assumed that the whole class knew I was teasing, since I typically use slightly sarcastic humor (despite efforts to restrain myself) and I had just finished going on and on about the grades issue with them. He obviously didn’t take it that way. He just walked out and went to the counselor’s office. Admittedly, I should have used the word if instead of when My principal saw me later and told me that one of my students had gone to the counselor complaining that I called him stupid. He didn’t have time to talk, but we are scheduled to meet Wednesday afternoon and discuss it. Obviously I was wrong. I expect a phone call from his mother in the next day or two also. So my question is, was I completely out of line, or did he overreact, or is it a combination of the two? Update I have written a couple of follow-up articles to this one that I highly recommend you read. After reading them, join the discussion! They are: Apologizing Slow Down! 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.