Go Away

Okay, I don’t mean that I want you to stop reading this blog.

I recently had a chance encounter with my district’s head librarian. Although I may not see her more than a couple times a year, it was a pleasure to see her again.

She had once given an assembly at a school where I taught, and it was one of the more outstanding presentations I’ve seen. She gave a talk to the students on the art of storytelling. She read aloud from some very colorful books, and she recited some stories from memory. She really captured the imagination of everyone in the audience.

I doubt that giving these assemblies is a requirement of her job description. She could probably get away with spending her days hibernating at the district office, or doing private consultations with the school librarians, and never interact with teachers or students. But her visit to our school site brightened the day of everyone there.

Likewise, my district’s music department has some activities built into the calendar that involve the music teachers “going away” and visiting each others’ students. Every now and then I will see a teacher or student who will see me and say, “Hey, you’re that music guy who came to our school.”

These little meetings and comments have made me realize how important it can be to go away from our usual teaching environments and interact with a different set of people.

I’m brainstorming here, hoping to implement more of this kind of thing into my music classes and my teaching schedule, but here are a few ideas for meaningful “go away” experiences:

  • Bring in a collegue for a clinic. This person doesn’t have to be a university professor, just someone else who might have something helpful to offer your students.
  • Turn observations into clinics. A younger colleague once came to observe my teaching, but I told my students he was there to listen and comment on our playing. During the final minutes of the class, he made some helpful suggestions.
  • Offer to be a guest clinician for a colleague. If you’re a woodwind player, offer to help out a teacher who plays a brass instrument.
  • Have your older students work with your younger students. Both sets of students can benefit from this experience. I’ve been amazed at what some of my older students have had to offer.
  • Bring in a parent or adult amateur but active musician. One of my student’s grandfathers plays in a recorder ensemble, and their visit to my music class was an enlightening experience.
  • Have one of your small ensembles play at a community event. I remember times as a student and as a teacher performing at Rotary Club meetings, corporate Christmas parties, and the like. Those were great opportunities for the music programs to remain visible in the community.

What other ideas do you have for getting out or bringing others in?

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