Posts Tagged ‘Patti Gordan’

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Patti’s COVID Teaching Story

May 20, 2020

Music teacher

Thirty eight year veteran music teacher Patricia Gordan teaches in two schools in RSU#14; Raymond Elementary and Windham Primary. Patti is a Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teacher Leader. Almost a month ago now Patti shared that this has been the most difficult time in her teaching career. In this blog post Patti shares some of the work she has been doing with her students during this time – ‘schooling away from school’. Thank you Patti for sharing your story!

She read Janie Snider’s story from April 27 and when Janie said, “I am their resource!” Patti yelled, “YES!” Her story really resonated with Patti and perhaps that will be the same for others when you read what Patti’s story and what she misses most.

I want to hold hands and play a circle game with my Kindergarteners. I want to teach a folk dance to my 3rd graders. I want to sit next to a 4th grader and actually help her cover the finger holes correctly on her recorder so that she can produce a pleasant sound. I want to be the audience in front of twenty students on Orff instruments and thrill to their beautiful music, and see their faces light up when I enthusiastically compliment them. And I miss, miss, desperately MISS the angelic voices of my 3rd/4th grade chorus. I hope I can do the virtual choir with them on their favorite song that we’d been working on, “Send Down The Rain.”

Patti had just tried to play all four of the students’ “instrument parts” by herself.

IN PATTI’S WORDS

My chorus at Raymond Elementary is made up of 3rd and 4th graders and a few invited 2nd graders. “Send Down The Rain” is one of five songs we began practicing in January for a May concert which will not happen now. This song was their favorite and they sang it with such feeling, even at the beginning of March when it was not yet polished. 

I always put lyric sheets and practice tracks on the Raymond Elementary music website for them so they can practice at home and that was already done when we left. What I’m looking into is to have them perform that one song as a virtual choir.

A 4th grader emailed me this morning after she’d sent me videos, two different times, of herself playing recorder and I’d sent her back some tips. She said she was trying her hardest but that she was “bad at recorder.” (We play recorder third trimester and had had ONE recorder lesson before we were sent home.) It broke my heart because I wasn’t there to help her and it’s very difficult to teach a nine year old how to play the recorder by email, even though they can watch the recorder instruction videos on the website. Of course I told her she was not bad at recorder and that I admired her tremendously for her perseverance.

The lyrics to “Send Down The Rain, which help Patti and her students! 

Send Down The Rain

I live in the desert, only trouble comes my way as I try to make a living off the land. All the trees have withered, and the birds have flown away,
And my shattered dreams have gone with the shifting sand.

(Arias) Send down the rain.
(Cantos) To wash the dusty sky.

(Arias) Send down the rain.
(Cantos) To water the thirsty land.

(Arias) Send down the rain.
(All) To soothe my burning soul (Cantos-again) (Arias-my burning soul again) Send down the rain.

Lord I’ve had it with trouble, disappointment, broken dreams, And I long to see the lightnin’ flashin’ ‘round.
You know I’m a believer, and you know I’m prayin’ hard
To hear the rollin’ thunder’s mighty sound.

(Arias) Send down the rain.
(Cantos) To wash the dusty sky.

(Arias) Send down the rain.
(Cantos) To water the thirsty land.

(Arias) Send down the rain.
(All) To soothe my burning soul (Cantos-again) (Arias-my burning soul again) Send down the rain.

(Arias) Send down the rain.
(Cantos) Oh, Lord, I see the lightnin’,

(Arias) Send down the rain.
(Cantos) Oh, Lord, I hear the thunder.

(Arias) Send down the rain. (All) hoooo.

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MAAI Resource Team

May 17, 2015

Working on documents

The Maine Arts Assessment Initiative Resource Team is furiously creating more rich resources to add to the Resource Bank that was established in June of 2014. The MAAI Resource Bank is located at http://maairesourcebank.pbworks.com.

The 2015 MAAI Resource Bank Team

The 2015 MAAI Resource Bank Team

The site has full units developed by the 2014 MAAI Resource Team and includes lessons and assessments for dance, music, theater, and visual arts. In addition, the team from last year created templates that are also included in the website for you to download and adapt for your own lessons, units, and/or assessments.

The 2015 Resource Team will be completing their work at the end of June and their resources will be added to the resources at  http://maairesourcebank.pbworks.com. The work is pretty exciting! This years resources will be a bit different and I really enjoying watching their ideas develop. Along with documents with templates, examples, and detailed information the resources will also include videos. I think you will find that they will be a great addition to the bank. The team meets periodically (electronically) to update the team of their progress and and for feedback using the MAAI Critical Friends model.

Catherine Ring, Executive Director, New England Institute for Teacher Education is the MAAI Resource Team Project Manager. The 2015 MAAI Resource Team is made up of the following:

  • Theresa Cerceo, Visual Arts Educator, grades K-12, Wisdom Middle/HS, Levesque Elementary School. MSAD #33, Frenchville
  • Patti Gordan, Music Educator, grades K-4, Raymond Elementary School, RSU #14, Raymond
  • Danette Kerrigan, Visual Arts Educator, grades 6-8, Sacopee Valley Middle School, MSAD #55, Hiram
  • John Morris, Teaching Artist, grades K-12, Independent, Bridgton
  • Jake Sturtevant, Music Educator, grades 9-12, Bonny Eagle High School, MSAD #6, Buxton
  • Sarah Ritz Swain, District-wide Director of Art, grades K-12, Westbrook School Department, Westbrook

The 2014 Maine visual and performing arts teachers who made up the first team are listed below. You can find those resources at http://maairesourcebank.pbworks.com.

  • Jennie Driscoll, Visual Arts Educator, grades 9-12, Brunswick High School
  • Beth Lambert, Performing Arts Educator, grades 9-12, Carrabec High School, MSAD #74, North Anson
  • Brian McPherson, Visual Arts Educator, grades K-5, Woodside Elementary School, MSAD #75, Topsham
  • Jenni Null, Music Educator, grades K-12, MSAD #61, Lake Region Schools, Bridgton
  • Jeff Orth, Visual Arts Educator, grades 7-12, Richmond Middle/High Schools, Richmond
  • Jake Sturtevant, Music Educator, grades 9-12, Bonny Eagle High School, MSAD #6, Standish

In addition, you can find many, many more resources on the Maine Arts Assessment website at http://www.maineartsassessment.com/.

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Another Teacher’s Story: Patti Gordan

April 15, 2014

Raymond Elementary School music educator

This is the sixth blog post for 2014 and the third phase of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative of this series sharing arts teachers’ stories. This series contains a set of questions to provide the opportunity for you to learn from and about others. I had the pleasure of visiting Patti’s classroom last week; grade 5 and 6 strings and kindergarten general music class. It was a wonderful morning. I was reminded of the combination of skills it takes to be an elementary music teacher. The fast pace of the class, the attention to the needs of small children, and the energy level is truly amazing. All of this with music learning at the heart!

IMG_3609Patti Gordan has been teaching for 31 years, the past 30 of those years in Raymond.  For the last four years Raymond has been part of RSU#14, Windham/Raymond, so she now also teaches in Windham. During her 31 years she has taught K-8, General Music, Chorus, Band and Orchestra.  Her present assignment is K-4 General Music, 3rd/4th Grade Chorus and 5th & 6th Grade Orchestra. Patti is teaching approximately 350 students.

What do you like best about being a music educator?

 I love watching my students’ faces light up when they are feeling the joy of expressing themselves through music.  I love their enthusiasm and their eagerness. Music means everything to me and I love sharing that with my students.

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

The most important key to success is be passionate about teaching and to continually improve my craft. I am always striving to learn. The second key to success is to have “decision makers” (administration, parents, school board) who are committed to providing best practice in arts education for our students. The third key to success is to have the time and resources necessary to provide best practice.

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

Before I began authentic, individual assessment of my students’ singing skills in General Music class I assumed that most of my students could match pitch in their full singing range. After all, when I listened to the class as a group it sounded pretty good. When I started assessing them individually I was shocked to discover that approximately 25% of my students were carrying the rest of the class. I started using these individual assessments to inform my instruction and also started having the students do self-assessments of their singing skills so that they could make their own plan for improvement. The percentage of students who can match pitch in their full singing range has risen to 85% by the end of 3rd grade.  I have expanded these methods to assessing their beat/rhythm skills and literacy skills as well.

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

It has been very exciting to meet other arts educators with the same passion for improving their teaching and assessment methods. I have loved bouncing ideas off of the other teacher leaders and I come away with new energy and enthusiasm every time we meet.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I guess I’m most proud of always wanting to learn more about being a music teacher. I’ve never felt like I know all I need to know. If ever I’ve begun to feel that way I’ve always then gained a bit more wisdom to realize I still don’t know what I’m doing. I am also proud of helping 30+ years of students experience the joy of music. I now teach many children of former students and I am so happy when I hear those parents share fond memories of music class and when they express their happiness that I will be teaching their children.

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

I get frustrated when I hear lip service that the arts are just as important as math and ELA, that they’re “CORE,” but then are not treated as equal. The truth is that there is no way that any K-4 General Music teacher, no matter how expert, can give students a true, standards-based music education, using the Maine Learning Results or the new Common Core Standards, in 45 minutes per week.

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

From 2000 to 2010 I worked with a group of teachers and administrators at my schools that were dedicated to providing quality arts education programs to students in Raymond, through sufficient class time, resources and optimal schedules.  By 2010 students had music class twice a week for 45 minutes in grades K & 1, and 5 through 8, and once a week for 45 minutes plus a 30-minute chorus rehearsal, during the school day, for grades 3 and 4, and a remedial singing class in addition to their regular 45-minute General Music class for 2nd graders who were having trouble finding their head voice or matching pitch. Sadly, since consolidation, some of that has been chipped away.

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

Keep learning! It’s the best way to stay fresh, prevent teacher burnout and give your kids the best possible experience.  Also, keep trying to make little improvements in your program. It can be overwhelming to look at your program as it is and think of what it should be. Plug away, bit by bit to improve the students’ experience and before you know it, 30 years later, your program will have grown by leaps and bounds!

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

Too bad you can’t buy time. I’d get my masters degree, buy a bunch of small violins to give my 3rd or 4th graders a “pre-orchestra” experience, buy more puppets for General Music class (you can never have enough puppets.), buy some additional technology for the music room, pay some bills and take some trips (Scotland, Germany, camp across America).

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

No. If you can’t fix it, regrets are a waste of time. Learn from the experience and don’t’ make the same mistakes again.  Make new ones.

I’ll probably be one of those little old ladies who gives music lessons and home baked cookies.

 

 

 

 

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