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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Reflecting, Responding, Respecting: making room for every student

This school year my primary focus is on creating a more equitable classroom for each and every one of my students, no matter who they are or where they come from. This is something that has been at the forefront of my teaching philosophy since I first started teaching, but the longer I teach (and the older I get) the more blind spots I find. It doesn't matter who you are as a teacher, or how well you master all the tools of the trade- as human beings we all have unconscious biases and can only process a certain amount of information, so there is no way for any of us to fully understand, respond to, and build upon every single perspective that our students bring to the classroom (let alone the millions of other perspectives out there in the universe that deserve to have a place in our teaching)!

Over the course of a series of posts, my hope is to share some of my latest thoughts on how to more fully include some of those people groups and perspectives that tend to be marginalized in Western (particularly US American) music education. Of course this is a life-long journey, and one that requires ongoing input from all kinds of perspectives, so I hope you will read, engage, and join in the conversation to help me, and all of us, continue to learn and grow!

In today's post I want to introduce this huge topic with some questions for all of us to consider:

1. Who is in my classroom? What backgrounds and perspectives do my students represent?
2. Who am I? What cultural values, religious beliefs, personality traits, race/gender/other aspects of my identity do I bring to my teaching?
3. Who/what is represented and valued in my physical classroom space and/or materials?
4. What kinds of people are being valued in my behavior management systems?
5. Who/what is represented and valued in my lesson content/ repertoire?

I'm sure you can see where this is going. 

I've titled this series, "Reflecting, Responding, Respecting" because that is my goal: to have more perspectives and people reflected in my room, my materials, my lesson content, and my values, to be more responsive to each student's needs, values, and perspectives, and to learn how to better respect (and teach my students to also respect) more perspectives and people in my classes.

Music teaching is hard. There's so much to think about, and so many little humans to care for! No matter where you are on your teaching journey yourself, I hope you don't read these posts and 
a) feel like you are a terrible person or teacher, 
b) get completely overwhelmed by all the changes you want and need to make (especially if that overwhelm leads to giving up and doing nothing), or 
c) think that there's no way for you to have an impact on your students' lives because of the amount of time you have with each one in class.

Instead, my hope is that these posts will help to spur ongoing conversations in the music teaching profession and encourage all of us to continue to strive to improve our practice, create a more just classroom environment, and better reach and teach each one of the students that enter our room. I'd love for you to share your thoughts in the comments below!

Read my specific thoughts, strategies, and resources for topics covered so far below:








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