Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Today was "Wacky Day" at the HS.

I wore this.

I think I almost bored my Theory class to tears today while lecturing on intervals.  Oops.  There's just so much information to impart!

In GM, we put off a return to guitars for one more day by teaching a one-day lesson on program music and doing an exercise where students each write a story that suits the fourth movement of Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique, titled Marche au Supplice (March to the Scaffold).  We had time to hear some stories in class, but Mrs. D and I read all of them later.  They were...bizarre, hilarious, full of misspellings, erratic, nonsensical, creative, ludicrous, morbid, curious, weird, frantic, and often an insight into the mind of an author.

On a pedagogical note (relish the pun), this lead to a discussion we had about how our educational system is very restrictive to the minds of many children.  There are a myriad of routes through which comprehension of a subject can be reached, and teaching according to the multiple intelligences doesn't even come close to accommodating each individual's potential-fulfilling need.  An example: we have a student whose mind is simply bursting with ideas, thoughts, and energy, but he has to use most of his focus just to contain himself in a classroom.  He added to his story numerous unrelated illustrations, the most prominent of which reminded me of Francisco Goya's Saturn Devouring His Son (don't worry, no one was actually being eaten in this boy's drawing, it's mostly Saturn/Cronus' face that inspired my comparison).  Learning music in the best way we know how to teach it to 30 students at once does not reach him, even though we both suspect he could be a great musician if given the opportunity for it to be an outlet (which would likely help him achieve in other subjects, too).  He's not the only one, though, so Mrs. D, other music teachers, and I scurry to find something for everyone, but we just don't have the opportunity for more profound education.  Most unfortunately, I don't have a solution for this.

At the end of this month we'll receive a new set of GM classes with new students.  I'll probably be almost entirely responsible for them while I'm there.  I've decided to let my expectation of maturity slide a little bit and am thus humoring the idea of using an attention-getting gimmick with these new students; an LED that I could blink/shine when asking the class to return their attention to me.  I'm liking the idea, but want to see if my readers have any thoughts on it :)

Untitled 6 - Sigur Rós


  1. I don't mean to crap all over your idea, but I think the light thing would get you more grief than it would attention. Imagine what your reaction would have been to a teacher who shined a light at you when he wanted your attention...I think you might be better served in the long run by just bunkering down and figuring out how best to keep them under control by sheer force of your personality. Granted, I don't actually know what it's like trying to keep a class full of rowdy high schoolers under control, so maybe I shouldn't talk...

  2. 7th graders. They have the expectation that unless they are tricked or gimmicked into silence that they're being invited to keep talking. This means that "Good morning! Today we're going to..." leads to about two quiet students and 28 talking. I began teaching with the expectation that they behave like young adults and that my disappointment in childishness would influence them. With this in mind I proudly avoided gimmicky clapping patterns or hand signals. But they don't meet my expectations (it clashes with theirs). Mrs. D did actually use the clapping thing once, and they didn't seem to mind it, but it only worked once, and she ended up needing to clap for 30 seconds to get everyone's attention on the 2nd and 3rd use.

    As a 7th grader, I would absolutely have rolled my eyes at a silly light. I would've thought it beneath me because it would seem exactly like the clapping and hand signs that I thought needed to end in elementary school. I try really hard to remember if I and my friends (we) were actually different than the kids I have, but all I remember is paying attention to teachers when they asked for it.

    After about 7 weeks, the students I have do give me their attention when my personality demands it (it can still take 30 seconds, or real yelling, when they choose to be stubborn). It took a long time for this to happen, though, and did for two reasons, the first being me (I hadn't solidified my teaching persona yet) and the second was them (they weren't being gimmicked and didn't understand my expectations).

    I'm just so tired of yelling and want to start with the next group on a different foot. Thank you for your input. It's under consideration.

  3. Belatedly, a comment from Mom. Even when I was in college there was disrespect for the professor! But my favorite "starter" was with Professor Jose Gustavo Melara. We always chatted, albeit en Espanol, for the first 5 minutes and then he would say "Vamos a comensar". Which was just a more interesting way of saying let's begin. I always loved it. So it occurred to me that saying a starting phrase in a different language might perk their ears a little differently.

  4. Interesting idea. I spoke some French once or twice and it kind of inspired a ruckus. I essentially do chat with everyone as they arrive, but my attempts at "Let's begin" have yielded a tepid response.