Nic: You Are Enrolled As A Music Education Major At

TCNJ. Please Tell Us About Your Goals/Intentions After Graduation?

NB: I’m absolutely intent on becoming a music educa- tor because I want to share my knowledge and passion for music with as many people as I can, but I’m still trying to de- termine what teaching setting my personality and pedagogi-

cal style would be most appropriate in. My passions and aptitudes seem to indicate that I would probably be best-suited as a guitar and music theory teacher. I also believe that I would be a more ef- fective educator if I continued to expand my content knowledge of both music and pedagogical techniques, which I think would allow me to more clearly model for and communicate information to my students. Having taken these factors into consideration, I plan on applying to graduate programs for guitar performance and music theory pedagogy in the near future, although I’ll definitely be taking a year off from full-time coursework so I can prepare for auditions and hopefully find some part-time work as a teacher. I think I would eventually like to obtain my doctorate in guitar performance or per- haps even music theory, but I’ll see if I can get through a master’s degree first. As a music educator, you’re often called on to lead things you may not have much experienced with, so I also want to spend a lot of time addressing some of the areas in which I believe I have deficits, particularly ensemble conducting, ear-training skills, and sight-reading on the piano.

Chris: What Are Some Key Aspects You Learned During Your Time As A Student Teacher In A Guitar Classroom?

CK: Don’t be afraid to be yourself! Authenticity is key for cre- ating an authentic learning atmosphere. I remember the first day I stepped into the classroom with 20-25 sixth-graders with guitars in their hands. To say the least, I was scared. I never experienced this type of setting in a public school system before, and the first few weeks was sort of a culture shock experience for me. All of what I learned in college applied to teaching in this school, but the unpre- dictability of the students behaviors and their attitude towards me was what scared me the most. I was urged to just be myself, in which I responded, “I feel like I am myself, but I still don’t know how to ‘be myself’ in front of the kids.” I will always discover a new way to “be myself” in front of my students and every day I evolve as a growing human being. The important part is to always stay true to yourself and to not be afraid to expose your inner persona. More- over I learned that having goals and objectives for your students is extremely important. Sometimes students might ask the question, “Why are we learning this?” or, “How does this apply to my life?” These questions can be asked by students at unpredictable times and it is important that the teacher anticipates these questions and has a viable answer to their students. The difficult part is that the answer varies based on student to student, and once a teacher is able to un- derstand how one student ticks compared to the other - this question will be asked less often. Another key aspect that I have picked up on


is time management; this is extremely important when teaching time sensitive lessons. The teacher must know when to give ample time and when to move on. Not every lesson will be timed perfectly with your lesson plan, but it is important to know your students and be able to accommodate for their needs. Time management can make or break a lesson especially with younger students. They need the right amount of time to complete a task without having too much ample time to distract them, and this can be applied to all levels of students. This is something that did not come overnight for me, but overtime I was able to increase my ability to accommodate for my students and this ability is still being built upon every time I teach.

Nic: What Advice Do You Have For Future Student Teachers Before They Begin Their Placement?

NB: Be aware that you’re probably more critical of yourself than

anyone else is. It’s okay to be critical of yourself, in fact, that’s how you grow, but you also need to give yourself credit when you im- prove upon something or do something right. In order to be a good teacher, you need to be confident in your abilities or else the students won’t trust the information you’re giving them.

Chris: Please Tell Us About Your Observations/Evaluations And Any Strategies That You Used To Prepare?

CK: I tried to remain calm at all times, stick to my lesson plan (but always allow for slight improvisations since all classes are different from each other), and be myself. My evaluators were my professors in college and they wanted to see that we can handle being in front of students. With that in mind I did my best to feel comfortable around my students and create a friendly atmosphere in which my professors and my students could enjoy. Teaching is very much like putting on a show, and when I was observed it was like putting on an important show in which I was getting graded. This thought is obviously nerve-wracking, but in order for me to cope with this I would do my best to acknowledge the existence of my supervisor in the room and teach just like I normally would. By putting my students needs first and being myself I was more so able to calm my nerves. Of course my grade mattered to me, but I couldn’t have stopped caring about the reason I was teaching in the first place: to make meaningful connections with all of my students. When keeping that in mind, it was hard to have a bad observed les- son; the students knew this was important to me after I explained what it was about, and I knew that their education is important to them and their parents. Consideration of others is key to success when trying to create good relationships.

Nic: What Was Your Favorite Part Of The Student Teaching Experience?

NB: I found the entire experience to be very positive, so I don’t think I could definitively say that any one part of it was my favorite. I loved being able to share my passion for music and the guitar with the students every day. I loved the natural curiosity that the students had for the things I was teaching them about. If I really had to pick just one thing as my favorite, it would have to be when the students actively asked me questions about the things they were learning be- cause they wanted to better understand the concepts. Not only did these questions give me the opportunity to talk more about music and the guitar (which I love doing), but it also showed me that they interested in what I was talking about.

MAY 2017

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