(originally written 10/2011)

Quote #1

“Problems are the stimulus to thinking… [G]rowth depends upon the presence of difficulty to be overcome by the exercise of intelligence… The problem grows out of the conditions of the experience of intelligence… The problem grows out of the conditions of the experience being had in the present, and that it is within the capacity of students; and secondly, that it is such that it arouses in the learner an active quest for information and for production of new ideas” (Dewey 1938/1997 p79)”

This year has brought about a multitude of changes and problems to overcome. In April our department was restructured. Many music teachers were reassigned within the district through involuntary moves and while no jobs were lost it created a great deal of tension between the department members. Then over the summer due to budget cuts we were faced with the possibility of losing one, two or three of the five members of our departments. It wasn’t until the day before school started that we knew we had a job. That left very little time to prepare for whole new courses and deal with the lack of resources. Starting out the year with new kids, some of whom were still very loyal to the former director, hurt by the move and under the impression that we had forced the administration into making posed many problems. How do I get them to let go of the past practice and become a new ensemble? The first month or so of school felt like a constant struggle. It essentially felt like having to start all over again from the ground up. Rebuilding classroom practice and some type of rapport with these students was a challenge since it wasn’t really a clean separation with the former director. We share classroom space and some other teaching duties. We had some students who have left, we’ve had some who have joined.

My CIG group is focusing on the challenge we face in finding ways to motivate our students. My personal struggle is how to create the classroom I want and teach my students the basic skills they are currently lacking while giving them the reins for student led inquiry. How do I get them to respond to me and best smooth the difficult transition we’ve been given? I know they have the potential to be excellent they currently have no desire to showcase their true talents. What ways can I get them interested in singing music that is not found on the pop chart? .