to live is Christ, to die is gain

One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. -Psalm 27:4

Study of Ephesians 6:10-18a

COLOR KEY: Commands (imperatives), results of following those commands, absolute language that emphasizes the importance of the commands and describes the extent to which we are to follow those commands

10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication

Sleepless

Another sleepless night. I do feel tired, but something keeps me from closing my eyes… a combination of anxiety, restlessness, discontentment. I’m anxious about starting another day of work and battling temptation. I am itching with the desire to be with people, to create art, to do something that makes my humanity feel more significant. I am discontent where I am and impatient to see the desires of my heart realized.

I never liked to sleep as a kid because sleeping meant I couldn’t play anymore. I could never wrap my head around the fact that my toys would still be there the next day, ready to be played with again. All I cared about was the fact that I wanted to play more right now. Sleep felt like surrender, and staying awake was my great rebellion…but against whom?

Lord, help me surrender to You. Make sleep a sweet thing to me, remembering that Your mercies are new every morning. Let me not rebel by wrestling the hours of the day from Your hands. Humble me, but do so with a lullaby. Amen.

Today’s Truths

Dear Lord,

Today was long. You felt far, yet I know You were with me…and so I must ask myself whom I think You to be.

What did I lack today in the moments I thought I lacked You?

  • Comfort at 奶奶’s funeral… it was a dark, gloomy day. As more and more people went up to speak to 奶奶,I felt increasingly detached. Everyone was so busy and distracted with the logistics of running a funeral…I hardly had the time to just stop and say goodbye. I couldn’t bring myself to move away from her grave when everyone began to drive home. I felt there was much more to say, but that anything left would be heard only by God now. I wish I had more time… I wish that very deeply. Perhaps I am afraid there is never enough time.
  • A feeling of security in being with church friends. I had just begun to get to know everyone more deeply, and now, I feel shortchanged. The extrovert deep (DEEP) inside of me was finally starting to appear. But now I have to stay home… hmmmm… darn.

What is the truth about You in those moments?

  • You were with me. You heard me. I may not have had enough time to say everything I wanted to say, but I have an eternity with You. In that eternity, I know You’ll have all the answers. I won’t even need to be comforted anymore, because there will be no tears, no sadness. What a strange truth… a future I long for yet cannot fully comprehend. But I can hope for it, knowing You have promised it to those who trust in Christ.
  • I have been repeating this to myself over and over again, but I will say it again: we don’t just go to church – we are the church. During this hard time of not being with one another physically, I can begin to grasp what Paul wrote in so many of his letters when he was imprisoned… he longed to see the church, to be an encouragement to them and to be encouraged by them. But he knew whatever the Lord willed was best.

Lord, help these truths permeate my mind in every moment of the day, regardless of the circumstances that threaten to discourage Your servant. In Jesus’ precious and holy name I pray, Amen.

Fear to Faith

What is fear?

Fear is never making a decision because every decision seems to be the wrong one.

Fear is not being able to think past this moment, yet not being able to think about anything but the future.

Fear is control over everything you can control, and utter devastation over everything you cannot.

Fear is wishing for death because wouldn’t it just be easier?

I have lived in fear for all of my life. I have been afraid to make anyone unhappy, believing that their unhappiness is a measure of my worth. I have been afraid, not just of being seen as incompetent, but of being truly and helplessly incompetent for the rest of my life.

Where has fear led me?

Fear has led me to debilitating indecisiveness and constant regret.

Fear has led me to multiple visits to doctors who can only prescribe me medication to stop the symptoms, not the source.

Fear has led me to quitting things I’ve loved in order to do things I’ve felt obligated to do.

Why is fear wrong?

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-control.”

2 Timothy 1:7

“So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?””

Hebrews 13:6

Fear over circumstances under God’s sovereign hand is a seemingly logical, yet totally illogical response. It is a sin and a lie of Satan, the Accuser, who says that God is powerless and does not love me.

The seemingly illogical yet only logical response, then, is faith.

The opposite of fear is…

Faith is believing that any decision regarding matters other than sin cannot be the wrong decision if one is within the fold of God (although, God may still choose to redeem situations caused by sin. It is also believing in the finality and completion of forgiveness already purchased by Christ for those who trust in him.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Romans 8:28

Faith is believing that God will accomplish and has already accomplished what He has set out to do, even when I cannot perceive the outcome of my desperate circumstances.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Hebrews 11: 1

And faith is believing that God, simply put, will not give up on me. I cannot lose my salvation because God is the one who secures it, and He cannot lie. No matter how alone I feel in the world, nothing can separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus my Lord.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Philippians 1:6

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39

Week 3 Student Teaching Report

1. Mon 1/20 – No School; Tue 1/21 – 3 hrs (sick in the morning); Wed 1/22 – 5.5 hrs; Thu 1/23 – 7 hrs; Fri 1/24 – 7 hrs 

2. Discuss what you have observed and taught during the week. 

Mrs. C tasked me with leading warm-ups in every period this week, in addition to teaching complete lessons to Girls’ Chorus. After discussing with Mrs. C what each class would be working on in the coming weeks, I chose a few relevant warm-ups to help students develop the skills necessary for their specific repertoire. These warm-ups included techniques for developing proper vowel shape, good breath support, and clear diction. I also began teaching a piece called “Soldier Boy” with Chamber Choir and “Panis Angelicus” with Girls’ Chorus. Given Chamber Choir’s skill level and maturity level, I was able to move through the material quickly with them and simply monitor student-led sectionals. Girls’ Chorus, however, is comprised of beginning singers, so I focused on the basics like identifying solfege and rhythms of the first two phrases. I wanted to challenge them beyond just being able to read music, so I asked them some guiding questions that would optimize their learning. For example, before having them sing through the solfege of a particular phrase, I asked them to describe in small groups what the general shape of the phrase was. After figuring out that it descended, then skipped up a fifth interval, they were able to sing the solfege very smoothly.

Lastly, I got to observe Mrs. C as she “stole” one of my warm-up ideas. She liked the challenge it presented her older students, so she made it even more difficult and divided them into teams to accomplish it. It was amazing to see my idea be improved upon and to see how much the students enjoyed the challenge.

3. Please write out in detail information what your guiding teacher has conveyed to you in conversations and the specific recommendations provided to you.

I believe the most valuable feedback I have received thus far from Mrs. C was her response to my first time leading warm-ups. I spent a lot of time preparing my students for an activity that I anticipated would be a challenge. I gave them all the warnings I could think of for concepts they might mess up on. However, by the time they tried the activity, they still struggled. Mrs. C’s advice for me, though she acknowledged my desire to equip the students well, was to actually let them make mistakes sometimes. It made me think back to the term “desirable difficulties,” which we have discussed in seminar.  

4. Reflect on what you have learned about teaching and learning during the week, including:

a) The teaching techniques (at least three) that you have learned from your guiding teacher.

  • To help students internalize the articulation of a piece, Mrs. C had them punch the air every time they sang an accented note and poke the air every time they sang a staccato note. This added physical aspect helped them exaggerate the written articulation and hear the clear difference in sound, and soon they were able to perform it without relying on the movements.
  • After having students adjudicate the class’s recording of a piece, Mrs. C asked one student to come to the front of the room and assess the class himself, live. She asked him specific questions like “On a scale of 1 to 5, what would you rate their crescendo?”
  • I saw Mrs. C practice the advice she gave me about allowing students to make mistakes as a learning strategy. When introducing a new, more challenging warm-up to the students, she gave the directions once, then began. Students who did not perform it correctly realized it, and Mrs. C allowed them ten seconds to discuss with a partner how they might strategize to overcome the problem. If Mrs. C had warned them about that spot prior to beginning the exercise, they would not have felt the mistake themselves, and would not have analyzed the mistake as quickly. 

b) The very specific classroom management techniques that you see being employed.

  • Instead of asking students to stand, Mrs. C just slowly raised her hand in the air and students got the hint without groaning or complaining.
  • Mrs. C said the instructions for a vocal warm-up twice, then began the exercise knowing that some students were not listening. The students who were not listening quickly realized their mistake when their voices stood out. She then asked one student to repeat the instructions and tried the exercise again, this time with everyone’s full attention.
  • When transitioning to another activity, Mrs. C not only instructs students to sit down, but proposes a question for them to ponder. Then, immediately upon sitting down, they’re expected to answer. This minimizes the need to regather their attention after they have sat down and had the chance to start chatting.

5. Provide an action plan for the following week of student-teaching.

Next week, I will be continuing a review with Chamber Choir on “Soldier Boy” and with Girls’ Chorus on what they have learned so far on “Panis Angelicus.” Chamber Choir has been progressing quickly due to their skill at sight-reading, but I believe I can challenge them even more by encouraging them to look beyond the music theory and sing more expressively. Girls’ Chorus is going at a steady pace, but they have only sung solfege syllables on rhythm so far, so I hope to now incorporate the vowel warm-up we have been doing into the lesson and teach them the correct pronunciation of the Latin lyrics.

Week 2 Student Teaching Report

1. A record of the dates and no. of hours of student teaching during the week.

Mon 1/13 – 7 hrs; Tue 1/14 – 7 hrs; Wed 1/8 – 7 hrs; Thu 1/9 – 7 hrs; Friday 1/10 – 7 hrs

2. Discuss what you have observed and taught during the week.

This week I led a game of musical taboo in which students must describe to their teammates certain musical vocabulary without using the buzz words I have given them. For example, if the key word was “forte” students could not simply say “loud” – they had to describe it in detail. The goal of this game was for me to get to know the students better and assess their level of knowledge before I teach a lesson.

Mrs. C had to step out for some classes this week for professional development-related meetings, so I had to take up more responsibilities while she was gone. This led me to see different conditions in the classroom and challenged me to employ certain classroom management techniques as I saw fit.

3. Please write out in detail information what your guiding teacher has conveyed to you in conversations and the specific recommendations provided to you.

After I tested my musical taboo game out with one class, Mrs. C had a few valuable recommendations for me…

  1. To have a student run the game’s timer, both to make it easier for me to facilitate the game and to provide potentially shy students with an opportunity to participate that they would actually enjoy.
  2. If you are low on time for a game or competitive activity, create a cap or limit. For instance, make the objective of the game that the first team to get to 10 points wins. This way, students are more motivated to win and to win quickly.

Mrs. C also told me she has each class sing a different arrangement of Happy Birthday. She doesn’t show them the lyrics just yet and has them label the solfege so that they have to figure out what song it is. This way, they associate the solfege with the tune rather than simply repeating back the song they know already. I would love to incorporate this in my future classroom, especially with an age group that loves to celebrate birthdays.

Mrs. C also recommended that wherever I teach in the future, I should be sure to build a good relationship with the school’s secretary, who knows all the ins and outs of the school.

4. Reflect on what you have learned about teaching and learning during the week, including:

a) The teaching techniques (at least three) that you have learned from your guiding teacher.

When certain voice parts/sections struggled with intonation or rhythm while rehearsing as a class, Ms. C had the sections circle up and face one another. This way, they could hear themselves more clearly without taking extra time to rehearse alone.

When baritones struggled with a low, descending riff, Ms. C provided the illustration of a waterfall, asking them to imagine their voices simply falling rather than overthinking every note of the riff. This caused the singers to relax their voices rather than tense up as they sang lower.

One common issue in middle school choirs is that it is difficult for boys to switch from chest voice to head voice smoothly. Ms. C’s solution was to demonstrate a glottal stop, having the students say a harsh “uh” sound. She then asked them to breathe out on an “aw” vowel while letting her hand drop from above her head. After the students felt and heard the clear difference of relaxation in their throats, they sang the phrase again and implemented the “aw” vowel. 

b) The very specific classroom management techniques that you see being employed.

Boys’ Chorus comes in after nutrition, so they are very energetic and need to release that energy. Ms. C incorporated a very physically active warm-up in which the students sang “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” in varying ways, i.e. backwards, double time, etc. The last variation had to be done without her help, allowing them to release as much energy as possible. She then signaled a “do” with her hands while the accompanist played their starting pitch, and the students automatically quieted down.

Rather than interrupting herself to call out the behavior of a particular student, Mrs. C inserted the student’s name into her sentence. For instance, she said “If you were the adjudicator [student name], you would likely use this rubric.”

Ms. C uses the phrase “mini sit” when she wants students to sit down without relaxing too quickly. This maintains their attention for a smooth transition to the next activity.

5. Provide an action plan for the following week of student-teaching.

This coming Tuesday, I will be teaching my first official lesson, beginning a piece called “Soldier Boy” with Chamber Choir (period 5). Chamber Choir is fairly self-sufficient, able to label solfege and identify rhythmic patterns on their own. Still, it will be good practice for me to lead students in discussion regarding the more interpretational rather than technical aspects of a piece. Thus, I plan to start teaching “Soldier Boy” by having my students read the text of the song apart from the music itself, then asking them guiding questions to help them come to an understanding of the meaning of the text, and therefore how they might interpret it musically.

I also aim to continue building my relationship with all the students. Last week I passed out Getting to Know You surveys, so I plan to follow up with some students about their responses this week.

Due Monday 1/13, 9 AM

Teaching Log: Week 2, Part 2

Thursday, January 16. 7:30am-2:30pm [7 hrs]

P. 3, Boys’ Chorus:

  • During Boys’ Chorus, I was determined to establish my authority after yesterday’s fiasco. Instead of taking attendance from the very front of the room, about 10 feet away from the students, I walked up slowly until I was about 3 feet away from them and placed the attendance binder on a music stand. I waited with my hands behind my back and made eye contact with a few individuals until the noise died down. Those who were still chatting quickly realized I was looking right at them and stopped. As I took attendance, I said each boy’s name slowly and made sure to make eye contact with them when they responded. It was a small step, but I think it was a step in the right direction.In preparation for a solo competition, Ms. C recorded their performance of “Aura Lee” and had them discuss different requirements on the given rubric. She asked them to define concepts like expression and pitch accuracy, then challenged them to think of practical ways to demonstrate such concepts. She then played the performance recording back to them, and they were tasked with grading themselves based on those specific rubric requirements.

P. 4, Girls’ Chorus:

  • Went outside with Z when she started crying from her test.
    • Asked her about her survey – VERY useful for my research. She revealed that her parents were divorced, her dad lives in Greece, and her mom is Japanese. She speaks both Greek and Japanese.According to Ms. C, Z has 
    Tutoring V:
    • She expressed that she does not see herself as similar to her peers, especially when observing that many are dating. However, she is fine with being different and thinks that as she grows older, she will look back on these days and laugh at herself.

Friday, January 17. 7:30am-2:30pm [7 hrs]

Study Hall for Boys’ Chorus today because most of them are on a field trip. The remaining boys came into the office while I was grading papers so I got to talk to them for a bit. I’m a lot more hopeful than I was yesterday about building a good relationship with them. Seeing them use the Study Hall time to practice for a pass-off (one of the tests Ms. C administers) makes me think just maybe…. they do care.

Teaching Log: Week 2, Part 1

Mon 1/13 – 7 hrs; Tue 1/14 – 8.5 hrs; Wed 1/8 – 7 hrs; Thu 1/9 – 7 hrs; Friday 1/10 – 7 hrs ***to be updated later***

Monday, January 13. 7:30am-2:30pm [7 hrs]

  • Testing out my music-themed taboo game today. It was very hard to say goodbye to the weekend, but Andrew was very helpful in testing the game out and cutting the papers I needed.
  • Happy Birthday songs – Ms. C has each class sing a different arrangement of Happy Birthday. She doesn’t show them the lyrics just yet and has them label the solfege so that they have to figure out what song it is. This way, they associate

  • Just tested the game out with period 1. My goodness.
    • Adjustments to be made:
      • Move more quickly between each team.
      • Make more terms; 50 was not enough to get through ~40 students.
      • What went well: all but 2 of the terms were terms they knew (except diminuendo and vibrato).
      • Have a teacher/student be the timer.
      • First team to 10 points (to save time)
      • Have students come up to the front instead of reading from their seat so that other teammates can’t see their word.
  • Just tested it out with period 2. GAH.
    • Better way to keep track of which team is which?
      • Maybe pass out color-coded labels/pins?
  • Behavior management: To get students to calm down after a fun/chaotic activity, do warm-ups without instructions. They’ll follow along and get the hint.
    • Boys’ Chorus comes in after nutrition, so they are very energetic and need to release that energy. Ms. C incorporated a very physically active warm-up in which the students sang “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” in varying ways, i.e. backwards, double time, etc. The last variation had to be done without her help, allowing them to release as much energy as possible. She then signaled a “do” with her hands while the accompanist played their starting pitch, and the students automatically quieted down.
    • Rather than interrupting herself to call out the behavior of a particular student, she inserted the student’s name into her sentence.
    • Ms. C uses the phrase “mini sit” when she wants students to sit down without relaxing too quickly. This somewhat keeps their attention.
  • Music Share Mondays: students get to share any music-related experiences they had over the weekend
  • Specific vocal teaching technique: Ms. C directed the sopranos to maintain the space in their mouths even on the low notes.
    • Problem with boys’ voices: switching from chest voice to head voice is difficult.
      • Ms. C’s solution: explained what a glottal stop is, having the students breathe out on an “aw” vowel, then contrasting it with a harsh “uh.” After the students felt the difference in their throats, they sang the phrase again and greatly improved their articulation.
  • Girls’ Chorus:
    • Today is my second day working with V, a student who just moved from Russia. She speaks English slowly, and I need to let her find the right words to say what she wants to say, even if I already understand what she means. Her mom is a musician, so she went home and asked her mom to help her understand how to read music. This helped me greatly because I didn’t have to start from scratch.
    • She likes to talk a lot, which is nice because I get to learn more about her home life, but I usually have to bring us back to the subject to get any work done. I’ll definitely make her one of my Focus Students, but I’m not sure what to write yet under “cultural and linguistic funds of knowledge” – basically what she brings to the table due to her own culture and language. I gave her the Getting to Know You survey early in case she needs more time understanding what the questions say.

Tuesday, January 14. 7:30am-4pm [8.5hrs]

  • Morning task: copy and paste parent emails from the school’s files into an email to beg parent volunteers to chaperone this Friday’s field trip to the Santa Monica Pier. Poor Ms. C.
  • Teaching techniques observed: Ms. C had struggling sections circle up, facing each other, to hear one another better when rehearsing as a class.
    • When baritones struggled with a low, descending line, Ms. C provided the illustration of a waterfall. This caused the singers to relax their voices rather than tense up as they sang lower.
  • Took attendance for Period 1 and it went very smoothly. I remembered everyone’s preferred nicknames, said “welcome back” to a girl who was absent yesterday. Now I have to think of an appropriate warm-up sequence (Ms. C wants me to jump on that next week).

Brainstorming:

  • Tongue twister: “Mommy made me mash my M&Ms”
  • Buzzing through voiced consonants “v,” “z,” “n,” “m,” “ng,” “th”

Period 2:

  • Took a student (J) outside when she fell and started crying from the pain. She didn’t want to go to the Nurse’s Office, so we just relaxed and chatted in the nice library for a few minutes. She does boxing lessons, which is how she got a bruise that was then aggravated by this fall…(ouch!) I’m glad I was given the opportunity to get to know her more personally.
  • Ms. B, the literacy coach, came into class and they sang Happy Birthday to her. Ms. C told her about my musical taboo game and expressed how appreciative she was that I incorporated academic language into the game (one of the key requirements for our lesson planning is to build ALD, academic language development).

Period 3: Boys’ Chorus

  • Tried the musical taboo game. SO difficult. The boys would not stop shouting and asking questions about the rules that I already clarified. Ms. C came to the rescue when things almost got out of hand by asking me to clarify the rules one more time and by giving the students thirty seconds to clarify amongst themselves. After that, I tried taking more control by informing them that if they continued shouting in my face, they would lose a point and not have the privilege of playing anymore. By the end, this was the dialogue:
Me: I think today was pretty chaotic. Would you agree?
All: Yes.
T: It was fun though!
Me: I'm glad it was fun near the end.
All: Not everyone got to go!Me: If you show Ms. C and I that you are capable of handling this activity, we will play again and start where we left off next time. Deal?
All: Yes.
  • The game went MUCH better in Girls’ Chorus. I simplified the game by eliminating buzzwords so that it would better suit their level of knowledge. They were disappointed at first but they soon found that it was still challenging even given buzzwords.

Wednesday, January 15. 9:30am-2:30pm [5 hrs]

  • Today was rough.
    • ‘Nuff said.
  • Thoughts from a conversation with Andrew while reflecting about today’s challenges:
    • Teachers – especially choir teachers – have to strike a balance between gaining respect from their students and not being hated by students…? In other words, you don’t want your students to hate you, but you also can’t be their best friend.
    • Middle school boys can be extremely prideful. How do I be patient with them? How do I forgive them for their rebellious behavior? How do I love them and show compassion towards them even when they openly disrespect me?

Week 1 Student Teaching Report

1. A record of the dates and no. of hours of student teaching during the week. 

Mon 1/7 – No School; Tue 1/8 – 7 hrs; Wed 1/9 – 7 hrs; Thu 1/10 – 7 hrs; Fri 1/11 – 7 hrs 

2. Discuss what you have observed and taught during the week. 

My guiding teacher, Ms. C, made excellent use of the fact that students were returning from winter break and beginning a new semester. She began every class by reminding the students that they themselves could take advantage of the new year and new semester by resolving to be in class on time and modify their behavior if they knew they could improve. This seemed to motivate the students to put their best foot forward, especially with my presence as a new teacher because they wanted to make a good first impression. She then had each class review the ensemble rules they devised in the first semester and asked them to collectively decide which rules they wished to keep, which rules they felt they no longer needed, and why. I was delighted to see that students were engaged in this democratic process, and that the activity caused them to reflect on their own behavior and attitudes.

My own first glimpse at teaching the students involved organizing icebreaker activities to help me learn their names and to help them familiarize themselves with each other’s names. I will elaborate more on these activities below.

3. Please write out in detail information what your guiding teacher has conveyed to you in conversations and the specific recommendations provided to you.

Ms. C started our discussion with two simple truths about middle school students: they want you to know their names, and they want you to celebrate their birthdays. As the week went on, I saw that she was correct. Students at this age desire to be known and valued for their unique personalities and identities, yet they do not necessarily want to be singled out or embarrassed. This was a helpful reminder for me as I went into organizing icebreaker activities; I tried to avoid any prompts that would be too personal for students to share, but fun enough that students would feel special about their answers.

After I tested out the icebreaker activity with periods 1 and 2, Ms. C recommended that I make some small changes. She expressed her appreciation of the prompt I chose (“What fast food item do you identify most with and why?”) but suggested that I simplify the question to “What is your favorite fast food item?” to move the activity along more quickly. She also complimented my strategic improvisation when students responded “I don’t eat fast food” or “I don’t know” (I changed the question for said students to “What do you like to eat when you go out?”). One problem we noticed, however, was that the activity was also taking a long time because when one student was sharing, the others would respond in excitement and stop listening to whoever was meant to share next. So in preparation for period 3, Boys’ Chorus, she suggested that I ask the students to respond to their peers’ sharing in some way other than commenting. I decided to instruct them to snap in agreement if they liked their peer’s response, and not to comment or have side conversations. This improved the pacing of the activity and calmed the class down for later activities.

4. Reflect on what you have learned about teaching and learning during the week, including:

a) The teaching techniques (at least three) that you have learned from your guiding teacher.

When facilitating a class discussion, Ms. C always calls students by name. This seems to be in accordance with her principle that students, especially those who are in middle school, feel most valued and heard when they are known uniquely. In addition, whenever a student shared their opinion, Ms. C would ask those who agreed with the student to give a thumbs up, and those who were in disagreement to give a thumbs down. This allowed students to exercise democracy when developing class rules with a low risk of feeling personally attacked by peers who disagreed.

I also noticed Ms. C’s awareness of individual students even when managing the entire classroom. For instance, when Boys’ Chorus was warming up, she continued conducting the ensemble while pointing out specific singers’ excellence. This kept the pace of the activity but made certain students aware of their progress and encouraged others to become more self-aware.

Most impressive to me was Ms. C’s mindfulness of her pacing. While observing her lesson planning, I could hear her noting that certain activities would drain the attention span of those particular students, then making adjustments accordingly. She practiced this by moving on to a different song once students started getting rowdy and visibly bored or tired. 

b) The very specific classroom management techniques that you see being employed.

As a general principle, Ms. C demonstrated a different personality or attitude with each class. For example, she did not joke around as much with Boys’ Chorus, a class who is already prone to talkativeness and being off-topic. However, she was much more relaxed but equally demanding with Chamber Choir, a group of older students who are more self-sufficient (able to lead sectionals without a teacher, able to sight-read, etc.). 

When Ms. C asked Chamber Choir to come up with a class rule within their own sections, the tenor section disagreed and even began to argue. Rather than disciplining a specific student or discounting a certain opinion that arose in the argument, Ms. C asked the tenors, “What kind of section will you be?” After some silence and with some reluctance, the most outspoken tenor responded, “A strong section.” She then challenged them to uphold that even in their decision-making. His apparent knowledge of what she expected him to respond leads me to believe that the standard of being a “strong section” was established long ago. My takeaway, then, would be to hold each student (or in this case, each section) to a certain standard of behavior from the start of the school year, so that when conflicts arise, they already have an ingrained idea of what is expected of them.

5. Provide an action plan for the following week of student-teaching.

My next task given to me by Ms. C and in alignment with my CalTPA requirements is to develop a team-building activity for each class. Keeping in mind the fact that there are new students this semester who have not learned all the musical terminology Ms. C uses, I decided on a “Musical Taboo” game. The game requires students to describe certain musical vocabulary without using certain buzzwords. For instance, if a student receives the word “composer,” they cannot use the word “write” to describe it to their teammates. Their teammates then have to figure out what the word is based on their own knowledge of its definition. My goal through this activity is to familiarize the new students with the class vocabulary, and to challenge continuing students to communicate efficiently, work with their teammates, and reinforce their understanding of the terms they have been learning all year long. 

I  am also tasked with starting a piece called “Soldier Boy” with Chamber Choir to prepare them for an event in which they collaborate with a high school choir director. Since they are rather capable of prepping the music themselves, i.e. writing in the correct solfege, learning the music with their sections, etc., my responsibilities will mostly be to direct them to the less noticeable aspects of the piece. For instance, I plan to provide some context on the text of the music by having them read it aloud like a poem or play. They had stated at the beginning of the week that their ensemble goal was to improve their expressiveness when performing, so I seek to help them achieve that goal by letting them discuss what the meaning of the text is first.

Teaching Log: Week 1, Part 2

Friday, January 10. 7:30am-2:30pm [7 hrs]

  • Seriously, every time my alarm goes off at 6am, I feel like death. I called Andrew on my way down to my car and hearing his voice was very comforting. He has a job interview today, so my motivation became the fact that we will both have work to do today! He encouraged me last night and prayed for me to have a spiritual perspective for everything. Am I loving the students for the Lord’s sake?
  • Adjusted the icebreaker activity and improved it greatly by giving students 10 seconds rather than 2 minutes to think about their favorite fast food items. As I went on, I even started giving students no time to prepare their answer since taking attendance allows most of them time to think anyway. Another adjustment I made in period 3 was to quiet the students down before I hand them back to Ms. C. I remember learning once that the state you leave a class in makes a huge difference for the next teacher responsible for them.
  • Boys’ Chorus is usually quite difficult to manage. There are a few who try to quiet the class down on our behalf, but I’m not sure if that really helps. It makes me wonder what I’d do as a mom if I had sons…
  • Something I need to work on but I’m not sure how yet – Ms. C and many experienced teachers have this ability to point out certain students while managing the class as a whole. For example, while Boys’ Chorus was warming up, Ms. C complimented two students. I doubt she could hear their individual voices, but they were doing clear hand motions along with their vocal warm-up.
  • Note to self: have students evaluate each other! Super effective.
    • Have students come up with their own class rules, thinking to themselves first then coming to a consensus with their sections.

Seminar

One question: what is going on?