Posts Tagged ‘general music’

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MALI Teacher Leader Story: Dorie Tripp

May 29, 2018

Music Educator 

This is one of several blog posts in 2018 that include stories of the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Phase 7 Teacher Leaders and Teaching Artist Leaders. This series includes a set of questions so you can learn a little bit about each leader. CLICK HERE  for more information on MALI. CLICK HERE  for more information on the 93 Teacher Leaders and 8 Teaching Artist Leaders. CLICK HERE  for Arts education resources. CLICK HERE  for the MALI Resource Bank. Search in the “search archives” box on the bottom right side of this post for past teacher leader stories. Thank you Dorie for sharing your story!

Dorie Tripp is a National Board Certified Teacher in Early/Middle Childhood Music. For the last nine years she has taught PK-5 general music and beginner band in RSU #38, (Maranacook Schools). She splits her time between Manchester and Readfield Elementary Schools where she teaches approximately 400 young students each week.

What do you like best about being a music educator?

The great thing about being a music teacher, is having the privilege to watch my students develop over time, and create a love for music that will last them a lifetime. I have the pleasure of teaching my students year after year, for as many as seven years. I love that I get to help plant the seeds for love and success in the performing arts. It gives me so much pride when I see my students in Middle or High School concerts, musicals, and festivals. Watching my students shine, find their voice, feel accepted, or even find a passion is what keeps me going.

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

There are so many aspects to a successful performing arts education, which makes it difficult to pinpoint any one thing. As we all know, educational strategies and practices aren’t “one size fits all” and what works for one school community may not be appropriate for another. I know this from experience, as in the last nine years of my career I have worked in two very different communities. One being a large, urban school district with challenges like over-crowded schools, homelessness and poverty, and overcoming language barriers (to name a few). The other a small, rural district, small class sizes, and a high level of community involvement. Both do a tremendous job to address challenges and celebrate successes every day, but often in very different ways. If I had to choose three overarching themes, however, I could easily name community, collaboration, and advocacy.

Dorie presenting at the MALI Mega conference, Oxford Hills, March 2018

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

I have found assessment to be helpful as an informative teaching tool. The moment I shifted my thinking in using assessment solely to “grade” my student’s achievement to tracking student growth, my practice has become much more effective. I use formative assessment every day in my classroom to understand what my students are learning, to solve problems, and provide more practice with the skills embedded in our curriculum. I use assessment data to differentiate my instruction to the needs of my students, guide my unit plans, and adjust my pacing. I have absolutely gained a more focused picture of my students, and how they learn as individuals.

What have been the benefits in becoming involved in the Maine Arts Leadership initiative?

I started with the Maine Arts Leadership initiative as a music teacher just looking for quality professional development (PD). I have always had great luck with workshops at Maine All-State Festival, but I wanted PD that I could attend earlier on in the school year. I found myself at a MALI mega conference, and was not disappointed! I was able to network with other local teachers, while taking away information and strategies that I could apply in my classroom right away, before the end of the school year.

After that, I became curious about the Teacher Leadership Initiative, and filled out an application for Phase 7. When submitting my application, I had no idea how much growth I would make as an educator in just one year. The support I received from MALI has been incredible. I was able to create a personalized plan of action, which included sharing my elementary teaching practices with others in a workshop, and saw it come to life. Through this process, I have found a network of supportive colleagues who inspire me to contribute all I can to the profession. For me, personally, the greatest benefit is that I have found my voice, and have been empowered to use it.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I am most proud of my students. Although I have been in this profession for nine years, I am still humbled by my students. They grow, and learn, and change into these amazing human beings with talents and ideas that just blow me away. It’s really nice to realize that you’ve had a role in that, even if just a very small one.

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

The more obvious things that get in the way of doing a better job or being a better teacher is time and money. I feel like all educators, no matter the content area, can relate. The less obvious thing that gets in the way is the lack of collaboration or idea sharing with other educators. It’s easy to stay inside our own little bubble, and never open ourselves to other ideas or partnerships. I believe that reflective practice is best when it’s combined with observations and mentorships with other great teachers. This is often difficult to practice as arts educators, however, because even if we want to branch out and team up with/learn from others, so many of us would have to go outside our school or district. Not all of us have other colleagues in our buildings who do what we do. This is why organizations like MALI are so beneficial. We need the time and resources to get together with other educators to share ideas, network, and work together on projects that can/will help us do our jobs better.

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

As you can probably tell, I am a big fan of educator collaboration and support. I try to team up and work with others, in and outside the arts, whenever I get a chance. During my concerts each year, the majority of my school staff come back and volunteer their time to help me with set up, the shuffle of students, and tear down. I always hear “You’re so lucky to have such supportive parents, colleagues, and administrators”. Yes, it’s true that I am lucky, but I also work really hard for this fortune. I strive to maintain positive work relationships with my colleagues. I volunteer to help out with other events that are not music related. I try to stay flexible and understanding when other school activities disrupt my schedule, just like my events sometimes disrupt others. I share activities and materials with other classrooms, collaborate on cross-curricular activities, and volunteer to cover a duty now and again. I even give private saxophone lessons to our evening custodian once a week, as a small token of thanks for all the extra work he puts in setting up and tearing down equipment for our six performances each year.  All of this is extra work, but I understand that without this collaborative environment, I am just one person, and would not be able to complete all of my tasks alone. All of this is in the best interest of my students, and ultimately my program.

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

I would say, don’t get too caught up on standards and assessments. They are important factors of what we do, but they aren’t everything. They are just tools we use to see and reach the big picture goals. Listen to your students, and don’t be afraid to make learning fun. Make it feel good for students, and they will develop a life-long love for music.

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

After paying off some school debt (I know I’m not alone here…), I would definitely use it to help students access music. I would purchase instruments and pay enrollment fees for students to participate in music festivals, camps and programs. My family went through great hardships when I was growing up, and I was fortunate to have a music teacher who made sure that those financial troubles would not interfere with my musical potential. I am so grateful for her, and others who made it happen. Without them, I would not be the music educator that I am today.

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

I try not to have regrets. All things that have happened in my life were for learning purposes. However, I hope that I won’t look back and worry that I spent too much time working about professional evaluations and certification requirements, and that I can say I always worked hard to give my students what they deserve.

 

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Another Arts Teacher’s Story: Virgil Bozeman

March 21, 2016

MALI Teacher Leader series

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This is the third blog post of the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Phase 5  Teacher Leader stories. This series contains a set of questions so you can learn a little bit about the work they are doing as Maine arts educators. CLICK HERE for more information on MALI. CLICK HERE for more information on the 73 of the MALI Teacher Leaders. CLICK HERE for Arts education resources. Search in the “search archives” box on the bottom right side of this post for past stories. There have been 62 posted to date.

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 5.23.50 PMVirgil Bozeman IV has been teaching at Richmond Middle/High School for 17 years. He teaches 150 students in grades 6-12 Choral and Classroom Music, the total population grades 6-12 is 270. Virgil has four choruses, grades 6, 7/8, and two high school. In addition he teaches grade 6 and 8 General Music and AP Music Theory.

What do you like best about being an arts educator?

I believe that music educators are in the enviable position of being able to leverage naturally intense student interest to promote critical thinking, demand strong work ethic and introduce students to the incredible depth and breadth of our tradition. It is easier to get students to sing Rachmaninoff than to read Tolstoy.

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

  1. Quality repertoire
  2. Individualized assessment
  3. Quality repertoire

I know this is pithy, but I firmly believe that great music is the best teacher my students will have.

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

Simply put, the better I have become at assessing individual student growth, the more my individual students have grown. I used to think that changing the way I assessed would necessitate a drastic change in my teaching methods. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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

Across the state our music/art/dance/drama colleagues are doing innovative work in the area of student assessment. Many are already involved in MALI, as are a ever-growing number of teaching-artists. It is a tremendously fertile collaborative environment. I can always count on the fact that solutions are already being developed and tested for assessment challenges that I am experiencing in my classroom and ensembles.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I am most proud when graduates from Richmond High School continue be active music makers in college and beyond.

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

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Virgil, center, in deep discussion with colleagues at the MALI summer institute, August 2015.

I am lucky to teach in a supportive small school with a terrific student/teacher ratio that allows me to focus more easily on the individual needs of students. That being said, our small size can sometimes be a barrier, both in limiting the repertoire I can introduce to our students, and working within a schedule that can prevent interested high-school students from being able to enroll in music classes/ensembles throughout their careers.

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

Creating the culture and expectation that our students will have to approach music from styles/cultures/languages that lie far outside their immediate experiences and interests. I used to think it was just “something in the water” in Richmond, but now recognize how important it was to remain true to this vision, even when students occasionally exhibited frustration at not being able to sing enough of “their music”.

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

When I first arrived in Richmond, the school had just cycled through four teachers in a five year span. That turnover had sapped the continuity and morale of the music program. Don’t think that the grass is necessarily greener somewhere else. Most arts educators encounter barriers where they work, be they schedule, budgetary, cultural, or facilities-based. If it feels as though there are too many barriers to building and maintaining a quality program at your school, it just means that there is important work that needs doing, and nobody is better suited to this work than you.

Also, keep searching for opportunities to improve your musical chops. We need to model life-long learning to our students, and they need to see us doing it.

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

Make a lead gift for the construction of a suitable performance space at my school, sock away living expenses to take a sabbatical to finally pursue a DMA in choral conducting.

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

Aside from not knowing how they kept my corpse animated for 20+ years, I will regret knowing that there were students who could have learned so much about themselves through learning how to use their voices, and either they never walked through my classroom door, or I failed to reach them when they did. IMG_0087

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Another Arts Teacher’s Story: Andrea Wollstadt

February 26, 2013

This is the 20th 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.

Andreaphoto2Andrea Wollstadt teaches general music to grades K, 4, and 5 and when the schedule allows she conducts a children’s choir. Andrea has been teaching music for 16 years and has taught every grade level- from Kindergarten to college-age students, and every music-education subject: band, chorus and general music. She presently works in the Biddeford School District where she has been teaching for 5 years. Andrea is one of those super teachers who sees approximately 600 students once a week.

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

I absolutely love helping students discover what they are passionate about in music. Some students are real performers – they love to sing and dance in front of an audience. Other students are much more reserved – they enjoy writing music. I also have students who are very physical–they love drumming and finding the beat through movement. Helping students find that one thing in music they really connect with – that is the reason I teach!

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

  1. Flexibility – I believe you have to be flexible. What works in one school may not work in another. You have to look at each school, and the culture of the school, and figure out what will be the best possible program for students.
  2. K-12 collaboration – There needs to be a connection between all music staff K-12. Musically educating students does not stop when they leave your classroom! I think it’s important to look at the entire K-12 program and make sure it all makes sense and works together to create the most effective program. In my current position I am at an extreme disadvantage because I see students in kindergarten, and then not again until 4th grade. I work very hard with the music teachers in grades 1-3 and middle school. We make sure the transition from school to school is seamless. We have similar philosophies, we use similar language, and we have had many discussions on standards.
  3. Personal connection – I believe developing a personal connection with every student is THE most important aspect of teaching for any subject and all grade levels. This task can be quite daunting for arts teachers. I currently see between 550-600 students once a week! I want to get to know my students as much as possible. What kind of music do they like? Are they a fan of Katy Perry or Eminem? Are they more interested in performing, or do they like individual composition projects? It’s so important to get a sense of who they are!

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

Assessment allows me to take my classes from enrichment to education. If I never assessed my students I would never know where they are in their skills, and then I would not know how or what to teach them. The skill level in any of my classes varies greatly. I need to assess students so I can differentiate my instruction. I can offer more challenging activities for gifted students and easier activities for students who struggle. Assessment also allows me to figure out exactly how to help the students who struggle. If a student is not singing on pitch I need to figure out – are they above or below the pitch? Is this more of an ear-training problem or a vocal problem? OR is this possibly a student who has the ability to sing on pitch but does not demonstrate this ability in class due to shyness? Assessment can help me answer these questions and remedy the problem.

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

I think of the assessment initiative as a giant “think-tank.” The biggest benefit to me has been the exposure to new ideas and perspectives from other arts teachers. I love all the creative ideas generated from our meetings and discussions. Even though I am a music teacher I am not really a creative thinker. I am much more of a concrete “black and white” type thinker. I really rely on other teachers for inspiration. The assessment initiative has provided that.

What are you most proud of in your career?

My technology skills. I have to say this–my sister is an audio engineer in Nashville and she would laugh hysterically if she new I was bragging about my technology skills! (I guess it’s all relative.) I am certainly no “techie,” but when I started teaching music I had ZERO skills and ZERO equipment. Over the years I’ve learned how to advocate for the equipment I really need. I have also taken classes and basically pestered people to help me learn what I needed. I am now a self-professed “Garage-Band Queen.”

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

Time, Time, TIME!! There is never enough time with ANY of my students. The once a week classes are never once a week. There are constant interruptions to the schedule and most of the time I’m lucky if I see a class 3 times in a month. There’s never enough time to teach all the things I want/need/should be teaching!

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

I really work hard every year to get to know each and every student. I learn all their names, I learn what kind of music they like, and I try and learn a few things about them. Whenever possible I make connections outside of our music classroom. I attend evening functions like family night, literacy night, etc. I also attend Winterfest, Chalk-on-the-walk, and other Biddeford activities. If I see my students in the grocery store I always walk over to chat for a few minutes.

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

Find the joy in the day to day activities and don’t sweat the small stuff. Take the time to stop and chat with kids, really listen to them sing (even if it is a JustinBieber song!) I get great joy when they get excited about musical things. Revel in that joy and look for it in each day.

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

Easy – build a state of the art music studio on our property next to our house. My husband and I would use the studio for recording and private lessons. We would also use the money to outfit the studio with top of the line instruments.

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

No. My days as an elementary music teacher are never boring. I wouldn’t change a thing!

Thank you Andrea for telling your story!

 

 

 

 

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Another Arts Teachers’ Story: Alice Sullivan

March 27, 2012

Featuring one teacher’s journey as an arts educator

This is the second in a series of blog posts telling arts teachers’ stories. This series contains a set of questions to provide the opportunity for you to read their stories and to learn from others. This post features Alice Sullivan who has been teaching music for 27 years. Alice is one of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative’s Teacher Leaders, Phase I, and represents the region of Washington County.

Alice is currently teaching, grades K-12, at Woodland Jr. Sr. High School, Woodland Elementary School and Princeton Elementary School. She has been there for 6 years teaching 200 students, band program grades 4-12, some classroom music K-4 and junior high general music, digital arts class and music theory at the high school, and one small elementary chorus.

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

I really like the opportunity to use my organizational skills in an environment where I can also be creative. The music room is a great place to find a balance between hard and fast standards and finding numerous ways of meeting those standards. Twenty seven years of concerts with no two being the same, but every year I strive to provide every student with the same well rounded music education.

Tell me what you think are three keys to ANY successful arts ed program?

  •  a commitment to stretching the limits (your own and those around you)
  • a belief that what you do is important
  • enough confidence in your skills to take risks

What specific way(s) do your assessment practices tie into the success of your program?

Developing solid assessment practices sends the message to those around you that you believe your program is valuable and worthy of reflection. This instills a sense of importance in your students and as a result they strive to reach higher goals. I often say to my students – “who wants to belong to the good enough club”? An assessment is a tangible way for my students to prove the level they have attained, to themselves and others.

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

There have been so many benefits to being part of the arts assessment initiative. The first that comes to mind is the great opportunity to network with other educators. It has also helped to keep assessment practices foremost in my daily teaching. With so many things to do each week, priorities become a necessity. Having weekly connections through the arts initiative wiki has ensured that assessments make my priority list.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I’ve always believed that music is a gift that all students can and should receive. My classes have always been available to all students. I’m most proud of the moments when the reluctant musicians realized they did have musical talent.

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

SLEEP!

Apple or PC?

Both – depends on the job I want to get done.

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

Exceptional concerts are a reflection of hard work and determination. A good performance is often attributed to talent or “good” students. I believe even very young and inexperienced performers can present quality programs with hard work and determination.

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

Enjoy what you do. Focus on the positive forces in your environment and link arms with those who also have a positive outlook.

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

I would travel. I want to see the world and share those experiences with the people around me.

This is a link to the wiki that Alice created that includes her marvelous resources: https://meaningfulassessments.wikispaces.com/. If you have comments or questions for Alice please put them in the “comment” section below.

Thank you Alice for telling your story!

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