So, you ask, what is my problem… my problem is that my students are curious about music… that’s what my problem is. You would think this is not a problem at all, but it really is. I teach elementary music and I have come to the conclusion that my students really want to learn more about music, but there is so much to the topic, I am sometimes not sure where to begin. How do I hand over control of a classroom full of students under the age of 11 and say “Ok. Here we go! What do you want to learn about?” I think we all know how that would end up. I know as a musician that the musical experience is meant to have a connection to those who create it as well is those who are listing to it. I have found that I sometimes struggle to create situations for my students that will allow them to have these personal musical experiences and further more when they are struggling when do I interject and does interject put the “personal” aspect of the piece in danger.

I believe that my CIG group this year has a strong desire in learning how to utilize inquiry in each of our classrooms but we are coming across some uncertain ground. Because most of us teach at the elementary level we are concerned with how to allow the students the ability to seek out the information on their own without chaos breaking into the classroom. Yet, others in our group, who are teaching at the secondary level, are looking further into the question of when does the “teachable moment” take place and when do you stop the student’s inquiry to interject knowledge. Because this entire process is circular, I believe that while the group is dealing with two separate issues the knowledge we each personally gain will be relevant to every member of our group.

I have come to the conclusion that I have never seen a more confused face than that of some of my students last year when I gave them a task that they would work on as a group and they would ask me if something in it was correct and I would respond with “I don’t know. What do you think?” I feel that sometimes in inquiry at the elementary level less is more, especially when they get to the upper grades. The students have become so dependent on a teacher telling them the answer that they don’t want to look for the answers on their own. So, while the student is confused by not receiving the answer when they asked for it, they are learning that it is permissible to seek out the answers for themselves. I know this seems like an odd way to offer support, but I find the sooner they learn the lesson that they are allowed to try different paths to get to their solution the better off they will be. I suppose I am referring to independence from adults and knowing that we are there to help, but the students has to want to grow first.

Challenge is a word that I absolutely love. It is something that I seek personally and professionally for myself on a daily basis and it is something that I push for my students. Frequently as my students are working on pieces I will stop them and ask them to explain to me where they are in their inquiry and process/actions that brought them to that exact moment and then I usually ask them a question that begins with the phrase. “Did you consider…” This usually turns into a moment of realization for the students and they go back project at hand. I would consider the skill of asking knowledgeable questions about a students work a strength that I have and continue to use it to challenge them on their quest.

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