Where do you teach?
Edwardsville High School, ILMEA District 6
What do you teach?
Concert Choir II; Chamber Singers; Bravo! Vocal Jazz Ensemble (co-director); AcaFellaz (co-director); Bel Canto (co-director) – Our choral program serves approximately 125 students. Out of those students, approximately 35 students participate in extra-curricular ensembles.
What is the most satisfying part of your job?
This sounds really cheesy... (but, it’s true)…seeing the excitement on the students’ faces when they know they just sang something really well! Also, I consider myself one of the luckiest teachers in our high school. Why? I really get to know the students. Whereas other teachers may only have a student for a semester or a year, I have the opportunity to have the same student for four years. I’m in my seventeenth year of teaching, and I still have students that graduated my first year of teaching contact me and update me on their lives. I love it!
What makes the music program at Edwardsville High School unique?
We are one of three schools in Southern Illinois that offers a curricular string orchestra program. Having a string program in our district allows us to offer students vital opportunities for collaboration between vocal and instrumental ensembles.
What do students get from the music program that they do not get anywhere else in school?
Although this sounds cliché…an opportunity to work on a team that takes students with many different interests and combines all of the differences to make a unified whole.
What are the top five reasons students are involved in music at Edwardsville High School?
They LOVE music! Interest in the process and procedure of creating something unique! Musical ensembles provide a creative and expressive outlet unlike any other subject in a student’s daily schedule. Music participation helps them learn better organizational skills and improves their abilities to collaborate with others. Opportunities to learn about different cultures and the music unique to these cultures. Our program offers a wide variety of curricular and extra-curricular ensembles. There is something for everyone!
How has ILMEA involvement benefitted the educators, students and music education at Edwardsville High School?
Many of our students have received music scholarships for summer camps and undergraduate studies.
All-District festivals and All-State have given educators the opportunity to observe guest conductors. Additionally, division meetings and workshops have allowed ample opportunities for worthy discussions with fellow colleagues in each individual music discipline.
What are your educational goals for this year?
Every student in my choir will become a better sight-reader. Every student in my choir will focus on improving his/her individual tone quality to contribute to the overall timbre of the ensemble. Every student in my choir will work on improving his/her critical listening skills to improve ensemble intonation, blend, and balance.
How do you incorporate assessment and standards-based learning in your music curriculum, and how does it benefit your students?
I record my ensemble in rehearsal and we critique rehearsals on listening charts (written) and utilize in-class discussion to continually improve the quality of the ensemble. This activity not only keeps students attentive, but it is critical to the learning process. Students develop more advanced musicianship skills through active listening.
Students perform singing quizzes in small groups. This keeps students accountable and provides an opportunity for improving listening skills, teamwork, leadership skills, and self-confidence. Many times the small groups perform in front of the class; I grade the students based on a rubric I developed and the remaining students (listening to each group) constructively critique each group. I think this contributes to a healthy classroom environment where each individual feels comfortable sharing their thoughts.
Please share something with new teachers that you have found helpful in your life.
Continue to be passionate about what you do. Even on days when you are really tired or you think you are getting burnt out, try to remember what led you to be a teacher in the first place. If you really are a teacher at heart, you will never give up and you will continually work to challenge not only your students, but yourself.
Seek out the veteran teachers in your area that are known to have disciplined and exemplary programs and ask them for advice when you encounter struggles in your teaching. Many times the veteran teachers have a large “tool bag” to draw from to enhance the classroom environment.