My philosophy of education is that every child should have the right to learn and get a quality education. Every child that enters into the classroom should feel safe, acknowledged, and welcomed. Opportunities for self-expression, risk taking and collaborative learning are lifelong skills which tie in with the dynamic Orff Schulwerk approach to music and movement education created by German composer Carl Orff (1895-1982) and his colleague Gunild Keetman. Orff said, "Experience first, then intellectualize." Based on this ideal, the Orff approach builds understanding of concepts and skills through connecting students with the music by experiencing it on all levels. These levels include speech/chants, movement, singing, drama, and by playing pitched and unpitched instruments.
As a middle school teacher, I find these young adolescents (fifth through eighth grade) to be energizing, inquisitive, and thoroughly unpredictable. In this environment, one never gets bored, and if you are observant, you will discover that improvisation, flexibility, and patience will help you smile and enjoy each and every day.
Clarification of classroom etiquette, expectations, rules and consequences should be made clear and followed through by holding students accountable for their actions. Students are continuously encouraged to provide student feedback which is a crucial step in the teaching process. This is where students compare and contrast, analyze, and critique. My preference for verbal assessment is the Harvard protocol: I value, I wonder, I noticed.
A hands-on approach is necessary so that every student feels engaged, part of the process and ultimately the product. Exploration is a key element for composing. Through the exploration stage, students are given permission to experiment, make mistakes, ask questions, start over, embellish, improvise, compare and contrast, experiment with extremes in volume, tempo, key changes, etc.
Lessons should be challenging but attainable. My program is student-centered, proccess oriented; inquiry based and provides all students an artistic experience. In cooperative group work, a demo lesson clarifies the teacher’s objectives and focus for the project. When grading a composition, it is crucial that the students are aware of your assessment grading via a rubrics.
In conclusion, general middle school music is an opportunity for students to make music together “out of the box”. There is so much more besides teaching from the score. Opportunities for self-expression, risk-taking, and original compositions are welcomed and encouraged. These unique individuals have incredible energy and brilliant ideas to share. Teaching middle school music is my passion.