I was trained at college to be a “reflective practitioner.” After every sample lesson we taught and after every conducting experience we were assigned to write a reflection. At a certain point felt like I was writing reflections on reflections. While this was annoying at times, I’m grateful for this work because it has hard wired into me to be reflective with every single thing I do as a teacher.
The only downside with this approach is that sometimes this mentality ends up putting you a mind space where, ever after great successes instead of enjoying the moment, you instead spend time being self-critical.
So let’s take stock of what’s been going on. In the past two weeks, two majors project have come to a close: the acquisition of a new instruments and a performance that I helped bring to my school. I’ve made great strides in two other major projects.
While those things are awesome, what I’ve realized this week is that my kids are really doing well. Yes, my 8th graders are still, well, acting like 8th graders, but musically they are further along than any other 8th grade group I’ve taught. Even though there are bumps in the road, as a group they are really started to get “it.”
My 6th graders are slowly making their way from making sounds on their instrument that only a band teacher could love to produce real quality musical sounds. Their enthusiasm throughout this whole process is really inspiring. Most adults would not last through the process of learning an instrument with the same level of grit and determination that my 6th graders are showing.
My 5th graders are responding well to me giving them feedback after every activity we do in class. I write a 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 as an assessment of their ability to work through the activity as a class. There’s no reward for a class with all 5’s but they are seeing concrete feedback, which helps them see what they are doing well and what we need to work on.
Then there are my 3rd graders. They are so excited to perform “Simple Gifts” at the upcoming Thanksgiving presentation. Sometimes the amount of energy it takes to reel them in is exhausting, but they are really into what we are doing. Yes, we have a lot of work to do when it comes to performing as a choir, but it’s clear that they all want to do the work and get better.
Yes, things are still crazy, but things are going really well. The work I’m doing is challenging because I continue to reflect on my practice as a teacher. But it’s good work, and as stressful as things get, the one constant is that I have great kids who inspire me every day.