Friday, May 11, 2012

Year 2: Week 33 – Under Pressure

Yesterday my 5th graders had their Medieval Presentation. Next week my 6th and 8th graders have a performance in our middle school music concert. The following week is the orchestra concert and two weeks after that is the Chinese & Indian Story Theater.

Each of these events have a significant musical components and are culminating presentations. Am I feeling a little stress?

Yeah. . . kind of. But more than that I just feel a little confused.

Right before the 5th grade presentation I was kind of bored. Everything was set up and there wasn’t anything for me to do for ten minutes. I talked to a couple people who kept asking me I needed help with anything, but I didn’t. So I just showed them pictures of my new niece on my iPad.

This year I’ve de-emphasized the importance of these performances to my students. It’s not that I don’t want these things to be good, but I don’t feel the idea of focusing on a single moment, as an evaluation of all the work leading up a performance is educational. Also, it places less stress on the actual event, which I feel gets the best work out of my students.

Part of this approach has to do with my students and the community I teach in. I student taught in a very competitive high school where trophies were an important measure of success in the band room. At my current school, kids just don’t focus in that same way on competition.

A lot of this also has to do with my own level of stress and how I feel about work. The hardest thing about my job is balancing the needs of the four grades that I teach. Three of my grades are working on performances at the same time at different stages of preparation. As soon as one is done, I can’t let down. Also, it’s not like after a concert I no longer have to teach them. There’s still weeks of school to go and It’s not educationally responsible to just watch movies for the rest of the year (though I will do some of this, but I can’t do this for a whole week).

Maybe I could handle being stressed out about one of these events but three at the same time? I’d loose it. So I have to be chill. I’ve got to approach these events to me kids as times to celebrate what we are doing and have fun. I put a lot of focus on the rehearsals not only being productive but also being a good time to share music as a group though hard work.

Look, if you don’t take care of yourself, you are going to be useless to your students. Whatever you project is what you’re going to get back. If you express stress to kids, you will have stressed out kids. This is what is working for me right now and my 5th graders did an amazing job yesterday so hey, maybe it’s working.

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