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Another Arts Teacher’s Story: Drew Albert

June 4, 2013

This is the 34th in a series of blog posts telling arts teacher’s stories. The first 19 were told last year by the phase I Maine Arts Assessment Initiative teacher leaders. The series continues with the stories from the phase II teacher leaders. These posts contain a set of questions to provide the opportunity for you to read educators stories and to learn from others.

IMG_0126Drew Albert has been teaching at Maranacook Community High School in Readfield, Maine for two years. The high school serves about 400 students and Drew teaches both instrumental and vocal music.

What do you like best about being a music/art/drama/dance educator?

Certainly the most rewarding part of being a music educator is the students. It has proven to be an incredible experience to be their teacher. I feel such a sense of pride when they do something they thought they weren’t capable of, or when they realize a passion for music they might not have known they had.

What do you believe are three keys to ANY successful visual and performing arts education?

  1. Collaboration and support. Everyone needs to work well together: teacher and student, parents and teacher, administration and teacher, student and student.
  2. Vision. Setting goals for any program is the best path for growth, musically and otherwise. Reaching attainable benchmarks leaves myself and my students feeling accomplished, while also developing as both individuals and as a group.
  3. Passion. I want my students to find their passion even if it isn’t for music. Students should feel they are in an environment where they are free to express themselves and create; to take risks and make mistakes; to learn, laugh and grow.

 How have you found assessment to be helpful to you in your classroom?

Assessment has been the biggest tool in guiding my teaching. Having to work with many students, all performing at various levels, I felt responsible for knowing each students’ strengths and weaknesses. Preparing meaningful individual assessments has prevented me from letting any of my students fall through the ‘proverbial’ cracks. More often than not, I found areas in which I needed improvement. Assessing my students on a regular basis provides me with an observation of my own teaching, which is especially important considering the busy schedules of administrators and colleagues. These assessments have been an invaluable tool in evaluating student progress from lesson to lesson.

What have been the benefits in becoming involved in the arts assessment initiative?

To be surrounded by so many incredibly supportive and passionate individuals has been the greatest benefit of the initiative. I have learned so much from everyone that I am able to use in my own teaching, and we have really had a lot of fun together!

What are you most proud of in your career?

Without a doubt, being fortunate enough to be hired by Maranacook High School my first year out of college. They trusted that I was the right person for the job, so I try my best everyday when I get to school.

What gets in the way of being a better teacher or doing a better job as a teacher?

Time, for sure. That’s a universal issue. More time for students and teachers. Our students have so many opportunities to take advantage of. Naturally, the majority want to be involved in as many activities as possible. It’s no wonder we run into scheduling problems! Sometimes the math team is missing from dress rehearsal, others times a track meet is scheduled for the same day as the big Memorial Day parade. We just have to do the best we can and usually things will fall into place.

I also find myself getting in my own way. It is very easy to over plan for a particular lesson. Creating a behemoth of a plan with an unnecessary and confusing set of directions, assessment, rubrics, scales, standards, bells, whistles and the kitchen sink. I have learned these past two years to keep things simple, succinct and meaningful.

What have you accomplished through hard work and determination that might otherwise appear at first glance to be due to “luck” or circumstances?

I felt very lucky to sign my first contract at my current school. The truth is, I’ve been very fortunate to work with many supportive, passionate people. From my high school music teachers to my professors at the University of Maine, they are the ones who got me to where I am today, as well as my colleagues, friends and family. I owe them thanks for inspiring me to work even harder.

Look into your crystal ball: what advice would you give to teachers?

Every once in a while, congratulate yourself! You work hard. You inspire your students. You get to school early. You stay at school late. You put on concerts and fundraisers. You create and motivate. You play music and paint and act and dance. You are pretty great!

If you were given a $500,000.00 to do with whatever you please, what would it be?

Pay off my sister’s student loans and mine. Then I would take my entire family on vacation: aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins…the whole crew. The last time we did that we went to Disney World. I’m thinking maybe Vegas this time? With whatever was left I would buy lots of new toys like guitars, ukuleles, steel drums…you name it. And of course I would share them with my students!

Imagine you are 94 years old. You’re looking back. Do you have any regrets?

I would be pretty excited to see 94! There will always be regrets in my life and career. In the words of Henry David Thoreau, “Never look back unless you are planning to go that way”.

Thank you Drew for sharing your story!

 

 

 

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