Friday, February 5, 2016

Year 6: Week 21 - The Night Before The Festival

How do I feel?

After a couple hundred emails (I got tired of counting), and a 5 page to do list, our festival is almost here, tomorrow morning to be exact. Yes, I’m feeling stress, but not as bad as I thought I would. It’s strange; it’s actually been a really good teaching week. Part of it is the fact that when I’m teaching I know that I can’t take care of any festival business. I can’t do anything about the festival, so why bother stress about it. In a weird way, being the classroom has been liberating.

I’ve been prepping my middle school bands for the festival, but we are at the point that we can't make a lot of big changes musically, so it’s mostly helping them understand how to think about the festival experience and keeping them focused. While none of them have every done a festival they’ve been receptive to this experience. Yes, they are complaining about getting up early on a Saturday, but they’ve been stepping up musically, which means that they really care about this experience. Sometimes with teenagers, it’s best to judge them by their actions, not their words.

My third graders are loving week 2 or recorder. I’m giving them more time to explore individually than I have in the past. The downside is that some students are doing some things incorrectly, however, because students get time to play with the instrument, I’m getting less interruptions when we come together as a full group.

My fifth graders are doing some recorder work in small groups. I asked for their feedback on who they wanted to work with, which always causes drama. Yes, this is more work for me, but I think it’s better for them and I told them so. Giving students choice makes teaching more difficult but it leads to more meaningful learning.

There’s been so much to do with this festival for so long that it seems weird to move into a phase soon when the festival will not be going on. There’s other projects that I have on the horizon that I’m exciting about started. They aren’t as big in scope and they are different and they will provide a welcome change of pace.

I’m looking forward to my students having their eyes open to the bigger world of music through seeing other students perform and working with other music educators. But more than that, I’m just looking forward to being in the building surrounded by great students and people coming together to make music.

Most people have very low expectations for teenagers.  Part of why I love my job is because every day my kids prove those people wrong.  We hear about people all the time hurting people, manipulating people through fear and hate.  In the face of all of this darkness I can't imagine a more life-affirming and hopeful example of the positivity of the human spirit than communities coming together to make beautiful music.

Yes, I'm doing this for my kids, but I'm also doing this for my own soul. 

I'll let you know how it goes.

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