Monday, May 6, 2013

Change is Coming! shoo shoo shoo

Well I am equal parts THRILLED and totally grieved that I am going to be changing schools and school districts at the end of this school year. 

I have been truly blessed during my time at my current school and the Lord has been faithful to give me a true love for the students I've been blessed to serve while at this school.  Not only has he blessed me with a love for my students he has provided an amazing team and the very best administrative support a music teacher could ever have.  I know that I am a better teacher than I otherwise would have been because of the great people I have worked with. 

At the very same time, the Lord has been faithful to lead me into a new direction with new opportunities and healthy changes that I am eager to see come to fruition. 

I am certain that over the next weeks and months as I prepare to go and start over at a new school I will face difficult days, but I really believe that my one regret is that I can't take my current school family with me because I know I would love keeping them near. 

Not only am I changing schools and districts, the culture of the neighborhood I am serving will change as well. 

For the entire 14 years I have been a teacher, I have served a student population with a high percentage of low-income, at-risk students who are learning English as a second language and who face significant often cultural obstacles that have kept them from reaching their academic potential..... Over the years my students have struggled to have test scores in the academically "acceptable" range and who have had to work extremely hard to reach toward an academically "recognized" school rating. 

Now I will be working at a school that serves primarily upper middle class students and although I know for certain that each of these students just like ALL students face obstacles of their own, as a school their test scores indicate that their students perform at an academically "exemplary" level. 

That my friends is a HUGE change for this music teacher to comprehend. 

On a purely personal level, its a great time for me to reflect on what I do and how I do it.....

What in my practice do I need to hang on to because it will meet the needs of any students?

What elements of my practice do I need to refine so that I can extend the learning of my future students past what I am accustomed to presenting?

I'm hoping that the next few weeks will illicit both thoughtful and useful blog posts from me as I process and prepare for the big changes coming me way.....

One thing I know for sure..... I am determined to leave my old school in good shape. 

It was not so long ago that I came to this school with more questions in my head then I could possibly ask about how things worked..... SOOOO I think I'm going to put together a notebook for whomever is going to be hired for the position that I leave vacant..... I'm going to fill it with things that would have saved me time when I was first starting here..... As that notebook takes shape I plan on sharing it with you..... We all know that leaving well is important as it benefits our students. 


  1. Bonnie - you are such a talented blogger! I ran across the title of this blog on LinkedIn and I am so impressed and inspired - thank you!

    I wish you all the best in your new school/assignment. I am very interested in hearing your thoughts on the differences in teaching these two different groups of children. I have been teaching a VBS in an inner city church for 5 years now, and it is a struggle sometimes to explain to new teachers who do not have experience with the children from this type of environment how to adjust their styles to connect with these kids. Love motivates us and grace gets us through, but I am working on providing more tools for our teachers. I am so excited to follow your blog!!

  2. Thank you for your kind words..... I would say that the best teaching is universal in its effectiveness and it's appeal regardless of the children we teach. However I know that I am most successful with my most seriously at risk students when I am consistently caring, genuine in my interactions with them. If I were going to give someone advice who has never worked with truly needy students before the very first thing I would tell them is that raised voices and sarcasm has no place in a classroom....ever....especially with reactive children. My friend and teacher Dr. Randy McChesney from the Richards Institute (ETM) often reminds us to pitch our voices when giving instructions "as though they will". That reminder has always been a powerful one to me simply because if I act as if my students aren't going to listen..... then they won't...... Also, the book "Love and Logic" is a great read, especially the sections about using re-enforceable statements built out of choices you can be completely happy with...... No teaching strategy replaces a constant presence. If you are going to work with at risk students, a dedication of being there is critically important....My experience with the benefits of staying put and being constant have become the single most difficult aspect of my decision to leave my current teaching position. Hope you enjoy future blog posts as well!