Career teachers can admit they have lost some of the easy clarity that accompanied them into their first year. Cynicism has no healthy place in the educator’s mindset, and yet hu- man nature still finds it a way in. Bennett provides a respite from this cynicism. Sometimes we all need these gentle reminders such as those in the chapter entitled “Someone Loves Tem.” Equally important is the acknowledgement that we must “Beware of Experts”. Furthermore the idealism that lights the fire of so many teachers must be protected lest the idealism flicker to mere futility when faced with troubles that we continue to ruminate on at home. Bennett reminds the reader that teachers must value their own well- being, and “Leave it.” Learning to leave the stress and the use of intense mental and emotional energy needed at work is a worthy goal for every teacher.

Some of the excellent advice could be just as powerful posted in the classroom to boost teacher and students alike! Here are some tenets I will post with this new school year:

Singing is a robust act. Adversity is not what depletes us. Absence of resilience does. Breathing can give us the calm that we need to choose our responses carefully. Words show who we are. What we say to ourselves can be every bit as powerful as what we say to others.

Teacher language sets the tone of the classroom as well as the tone of voice in the minds of our students and our- selves. Bennett adeptly provides examples of language that is professional, constructive, and honest. Her suggested language addresses a spectrum of needed assertiveness. Te most complimentary is level one, cautious of sacrificing one’s own peace or authenticity. Level two is calm, busi- ness-like, and with a direction of what should happen next. Level three is commanding yet not emotional. Level four is serious and focused but without aggression. Other teacher language suggestions are in line with the growth mind-set determined to be the most effective practice. “Our reward for meeting all those challenges is the feeling within us. Can you feel it?” “How could we solve this problem?” Te focus remains on the learning and improvement, not the product or disappointment.

In addition to teacher talk supporting a growth mind-set, Bennett’s examples of how to address behavior provide a radical departure from many existing approaches. She sug- gests redefining disapproved actions from misbehavior to just behavior. When a teacher confronts a student doing the wrong thing, a teacher is better to begin with the mind-set that the student really needs a neutral lesson on procedure and expectation rather than a judgmental and confronta-

tional reprimand. Tis reader’s take on the power of this redefinition is that most behavior deserves the benefit of the doubt and reteaching. Tis is also an opportunity for a teacher to model respect and care.

Peggy Bennett, a Professor Emerita of Music Education, wrote Teaching With Vitality in part from the perspective of a teacher educator who witnessed the pitfalls of novice teachers’ personality traits. For those who oſten make snap judgements she cautions the reader to watch for the pitfalls of making assumptions about others. For the sensitive ones looking for understanding and sympathy she reminds us to avoid unguarded vulnerability. For the perhaps overly confident, Bennet warns of the blindness of always being right. She reminds us that conflict is inevitable and handling it is best done with the view that it is an opportunity to transform a situation. Assuming that a colleague’s offensive declaration or response is a personal affront is not produc- tive, but a wiser option would be to assume good intentions or at least that the other party is not aware of the sensitivity of the situation.

Te reflective teacher, throughout his or her career, will find Teaching With Vitality a touchstone for insight and practi- cal illumination on the path of the educational venture.

Kristi Bishop teaches Vocal and Instrumental Music at Bach Ele- mentary in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Wichita State University, and a Master in Music Education degree from the University of Michigan. She has been teaching for 24 years in the public schools.


I enjoyed reading the book. It was very informative and reflective. Te topics were enhanced with shared stories about teaching methods. I can see myself in the majority of the topics and references. As I read the book I found myself reflecting on techniques I once used and their effectiveness in my classroom. Some techniques I still use with vigor and others I have used with little success but would like to im- plement successfully. Teaching with Vitality provided much guidance and informed me about other techniques I can use in my classroom.

Te topics that generated lots of reflective thinking for me were the following: “Rethinking student success”; “Behaving respectfully”; “Accepting change”; “Assertiveness” (11-16); “Misbehavior and behavior”; “Two-word cues”; “Valuing your voice”; and, “Moments of grace”. Te lessons I gained from these topics were profound. I thought about students who present challenges and how I have taught them with college readiness in mind rather than preparing them to be successful contributors to our community. Sometimes I forget how age can influence the nature of behavior and


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