Posts Tagged ‘William Buzza’

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Edward Little High School

October 17, 2016

The Band plays on

One of three musical performances provided by PreK-grade 12 students at the recent Maine International Conference on the Arts was provided by students from Edward Little High School in Auburn under the direction of William Buzza. The conference provided by the Maine Arts Commission on October 6 and 7 had several pop-up performances throughout the conference. The band marched up the street next to the Franco Center in Lewiston where conference participants poured onto the sidewalk to watch and listen. Afterwards the musicians performed a couple more songs inside the center. Below are two video clips.

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Another Arts Teachers’ Story: William Buzza

April 10, 2012

Featuring one teacher’s journey as an arts educator

This is the fourth 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 educators stories and to learn from others.

William Buzza is the featured teacher this week; he goes by Bill because as he says “it’s less pretentious sounding :-)”. Bill started his career as a music educator 19 years ago in Turner at Tripp Middle School; for the last 14  he has been at Leavitt Area High School, RSU 52. He serves in the leadership position as visual and performing arts coordinator for his school district in which he gets to process lots of paperwork and fulfill other tasks that come up and for arts activities. His classes consist of concert band, percussion ensemble, piano 1 & 2, guitar 1 & 2 and electronic music for a total of 41 students. His school also has a marching band that participates in the regional band shows. Bill is one of the Maine Arts Assessment Initiative’s Teacher Leaders, Phase I.

What do you like best about being an arts educator?

I enjoy sharing those “aha” moments with students when they achieve new levels of success and they recognize the progress they’ve made in learning the concepts and skills we’ve been studying in class.

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

I think a successful arts ed program revolves around relationship building. I came to this realization a number of years ago when reading Stephen Covey’s well known book, “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” which really affected me as a teacher. I’ve come to realize the importance of the following three sets of relationship building:

  1. You need to have a positive and respectful relationship with your students. The arts are about sharing: the students sharing their artwork with you, you sharing the creative process with the students; especially when you and your students experience that special moment in a performance when everything you’ve been working on comes together and the goose bumps happen. Without an atmosphere of trust, openness and acceptance, that special sharing will not happen.
  2. Arts educators need to have positive relations with colleagues and administrators. There are many times when the success of our program depends on those people, whether it’s budget time, time for the guidance department to do the scheduling, or the occasion when your students need to miss another class for a special rehearsal or field trip. The time to work on your professional relationships is not when you need something.
  3. Arts educators depend on good relations with the parents. Those are the people that will encourage the child to practice at home, help out with fundraisers, chaperone field trips, assist in the marching band pit crew, etc., etc. Without the support of my students’ parents, I don’t know how I would have accomplished some of the things we have over the years.

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

I try to make all my assessments formative in nature by finding ways to make these experiences instructional moments for the students.  Sometimes I will have the students reflect on the successes or struggles they’ve experienced, while at other times I will use rubrics and narrative feedback to instruct them on what they need to do to improve. My goal is for my students to become independent musicians and thinkers. I believe that formative assessments supports this goal and promotes a sense of ownership of common goals. I tell my students that I know I will have done my job if by the time they graduate, they don’t me anymore.

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

The initiative has provided a great opportunity to network with some amazing teachers. It is difficult to describe the synergy that is created when a group of arts educators get together to work on educational issues that transcend boundaries otherwise imposed by considering oneself a “music teacher” or a “visual arts teacher”. It has been very fulfilling to talk about effective teaching and learning practices and have a network of colleagues to bounce ideas off of.

What are you most proud of in your career?

There are two things I am very proud of. One is the creation of a guitar program at our school. This addition to our music department has brought a new group of students into the music room that I and my colleague, Penny Appleby would not otherwise get to meet. These students bring a different energy to the music department that enhances the department’s relevancy to the general student body.

On a personal level, I am very proud to have been recognized as a finalist for the 2011 Maine Teacher of the Year. As arts educators, I think we often teach in a bubble where very few of our colleagues and administrators understand what we’re doing. I suspect we all have occasions when we may doubt our effectiveness as a teacher. The Teacher of the Year program was a challenging process that involved much outside assessment of my teaching practices and beliefs and was truly a validation of my work as a teacher. I encourage the readers to consider nominating a deserving teacher for this recognition.

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

Time – there never seems to be enough of it.

Apple or PC?

Both. I use a Mac at school and a PC at home. I also have the “pleasure?” of working at a school where our students’ 1-to-1 devices are running on Linux.  So that probably makes me sufficiently qualified (or confused) in the digital age. I’m learning the significance of “open source”.

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

Our administration is very supportive of all the arts in our district. This has occurred from years of regular internal advocacy. The advocacy piece always seems necessary due to the regular turnover of administrators.

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

When considering your own professional development, try to take a course or workshop not related to the arts / your content, but to teaching in general. I found this experience to give me a whole different outlook on my teaching. The list of possible teaching strategies / methods is endless.

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

The first thing I would do is pay off the mortgage! Growing up in Presque Isle, I always said if I ever got rich that I would buy a motor coach for the Presque Isle High School music program so the band wouldn’t have to ride a school bus to the basketball tournament or the state jazz festivals. Then I would take my two boys for an extended road trip down the eastern seaboard before they hit college – then we all know where the money would go.

Thank you Bill for taking the time to tell your story!

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