Urban Educator in the City!

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  • In: Music | Reflection
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When I was growing up, every child had the oppportunity to take music in Elementary, Middle and High School. In the third grade, my music teacher thought that I would make a good drummer, I wanted to hang around my friends and play the violin!Had I known what I know now – Sheila E! – I would have stayed in the Percussions Class.


Fast Forward————————————>Now my students don’t have the opportunity to take any music classes during school. Sure, the magnet schools still have their music program but that is a different blog entry. The elementary school that feeds into our middle school taught violin—-just violin, no trombone, saxophone, percussions, tuba, clarinet—-just violin, and the music teacher was teaching music at three different elementary schools. The elementary school no longer has a violin music class. So now kids get to beat on desks with pencils! I know an educator who allows his class to become the “pencil percussion band”  for the last five or ten minutes of class just to let the students blow off a little steam! Also it has stopped the students  from beating on desk during class!

There are definitely children in my school that would benefit from taking  music classes. Recently, I watched an episode of “Making His Band”, where musicians from all across the world were auditioning to be in a band for Puff Daddy, P-Diddy, Sean Combs!  His name is not important! What IS important is the number of musicians who made the first cut because they played by ear quite well but couldn’t make the second cut because they NEVER had any music classes. Again, students from poor neighborhoods are being left behind because even though they might possess the raw talent, without the music classes to teach them proper techniques, that is all that they will and ever have…….RAW TALENT!

As we start a new school year I want to introduce you to a student that most inner city teachers have experienced. A student who works for a D in your class. Personally, I don’t allow those types of students to thrive in my classroom. My students know that anything below a B is good enough! And towards the end of the school year, you can over hear students telling other students that a C isn’t good enough and they could have done better.

In my classroom, students are allowed to do F work over. My goal is that the student learn the objective more than receive a higher grade. Students can receive peer tutoring and/or afterschool tutoring to improve their grades in my classroom. By working with the students one on one or in small group settings, I can pinpoint where the student started experiencing problems in my classroom. Sometimes this means that the student has to learn some objectives from the previous grade during the afterschool sessions so that they will feel confident in my class. Sometimes it means assigning the student a peer tutor. Someone from my class who will work with that student to help to improve their grades. Let’s face it, some F students don’t know how to study and prepare for a test. They don’t know how to take notes, etc. They might have a reading problem but we work through all of those problems afterschool.

I am a teacher who believes that if a teacher has too many F students in their classroom, that they might be an F teacher.  This school year, let’s think of solutions to solve the problem when we encounter one of these F students in our classroom. If you can’t think of any solutions, work with your grade level or subject area team to come up with solutions to help this child to learn. If that child is doing F work in your class but doing A work in another class, find out what teaching methods that teacher is using to get that child engaged in their lessons. If you still can’t think of any solutions, send me an email and I will be happy to help you out! We can not continue to leave the F students behind!

Together we can Find our way to a D!

                          Dig our way to a C!

                          Carve our way to a B!

                          Bounce our way to an A!

One of the things that I like to do to establish  a relaxing environment in my classroom is to have light jazz or classical music playing when students first come into classroom. Students know to enter class, turn in homework to Homework Monitor and  immedicatedly start on Bellwork, Journal Time, Do Now or Accelerated Math . The music relaxes them and it definitely relaxes me… Sometimes when students are coming to school from a stressful home, walking through a stressful neighborhood or having a fight with BFF right before they enter your classroom, they need a minute to transition from that environment to the classroom environment.

Try it! You might like it!

Students will beg you to play R&B and/or Hip Hop instead. DON”T DO IT! Unless of course you want your class to turn into an Americn Idol competition or Class Sing-a- Long!



Data is My Friend. Data is my Friend.

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