Friday, May 9, 2014

Reflections of a Young Music Educator

Good morning and happy Friday!
      Hard to believe in 11 school days I will be reaching the end of my fourth year teaching!  I'm past the point where I can go back to my old college campus and still find friends walking around the campus lawn or grabbing a cappuccino and chocolate chip banana bread in the K-dit (Wow, I really ate unhealthy things in college!).  I am also at a point, however, that I am beginning to really find myself as an educator and young adult.  I realized I am at the age where I am closer to 30 than 20, am making critical career decisions, am starting to set down roots in a community I enjoy, and am slowly settling into the adult lifestyle. 
      Maybe 26 is a little late in life to start rethinking life decisions, but I say better late than never.  I know at this time four years ago I was hurriedly panicking about finding a job, ANY job, in my field because I obviously was a failure if I didn't have employment figured out by the time I graduated in the coming weeks.
      I always wanted to be one of those teachers that found that job right out of college, made a name for myself in my field, gained the respect of my community, and stayed my entire tenure in that town.  That was not the case.  I stayed at my first job for two years and left because of both the burnout from teaching K-12 vocal 3 days a week in one district and 5th grade band in a school almost 4x the size of the first district the other two days a week as well as living over 3 hours from my hometown.  I had a handful of friends but nothing to really tie me to the area, and by golly, I missed my family.  So I took a job at my current district teaching 6-12 vocal.  I was only an hour and a half away from my family, two of my brothers were going to college only a half hour away, I got to focus my teaching skills on just one area of music instead of three...the list could have gone on forever on how perfectly I felt my life was falling into place.  Here I am again, two years later, finding out my position is being turned into a 7-12 band and choir position, and I am again trying to find employment elsewhere to avoid the burnout.  There have been a few changes in my life that have certainly gone for the better since my first job though. I AM closer to family, I live in a city where I feel I can put down some roots for a while (where my brothers also live--yay!); I have a wonderful boyfriend who keeps me grounded; I am back on stage performing again, and what a life-altering experience that has been. 
    Am I absolutely certain of where my life will lead me in the next five years? Of course not.  That's just a silly thought.  This interview next week could lead to employment for the rest of my life; I could end up using my performance degree to lead me into working at a college or singing around the world; I could end up following my boyfriend somewhere as he pursues his dreams.   I am still getting some of my proverbial cards dealt to me, and I am figuring out how to make the best with the hand I am being dealt.  I think one of the greatest pieces of advice that 26 year old me can give 22 year old me is that nothing is perfect, but if you give life the chance, it certainly gets better.  You just need to look for the positives and realize that everything happens.  Obsessing about it will not make it any better.  Thinking that not having a job by graduation will make me a failure or that I'll never get a job because all the "good ones" are taken is a load of hooey.  Everyone finds a different job to be the right job for them, and your only pseudo-real experience has been in student teaching.  You won't know what you really enjoy until you get out there any try it. 
     I know not many people follow this blog, but I hope those of you that do read this find some sort of connection with what I have just written and find a kindred spirit in me.  Remember to keep your head up and know that as an educator you are not only teaching the students but you're teaching yourself how to be the best learner in life that you can be. 
     Stay positive, my friends!

             Ms. K Schmitz

Thursday, March 20, 2014

It Has Certainly Been A While

     It may seem that I have fallen off the face of the earth as I have not posted a blog in a while.  Fear not; I am still here.  I have been working on surviving the time of year where we prep for numerous honor choirs, festivals, contests (for MS and HS) as well as the pops concert.  Add that in with a full rehearsal schedule from being in a G and S operetta, and you have one sleepy music teacher.
     I have been trying to add some new elements to my @SpartanVocal Twitter account.  A few weeks ago, I began implementing a "Group of the Week," where I post a song by different groups that I find interesting.  I have chosen groups from Anthem Lights to The Real Group, and there has been some positive feedback from the students and community alike in reference to the variety of music they are hearing.
    I hope to come back to writing a weekly blog for you all and have you join in my adventures in the life of a music teacher!

Feel free to follow my choirs on Twitter: @SpartanVocal    or  follow my education sites I have run across  @KSchmitzTeaches

Saturday, December 7, 2013

And Not Just In America.... relation to my last post, more young learners are getting a shot at a valuable and enriching education. A.R. Rahman, a prominent Indian composer, is beginning to call for better music education and music schools all throughout India for young learners. Every child, no matter what country or socioeconomic status, deserves a good education. It warms my heart this holiday season to see so many people who want to help others!

Supporting Our Young Learners

I was ecstatic to open my Feedly this morning and see this article saying NAfME is supporting an Early Childhood Learning Bill. In a world where our youngest learners are being trampled over to make way for other things this teacher finds less essential, it is great to see a group standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves yet. I read on to get even more excited when I saw that Iowa Senator Tom Harkin (my home state), is a primary supporter of this bill. Click on this link to read more about helping our young learners.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

What If...?

What if we let students design their own schools? Would there be tests? Quizzes? Teachers? Ambition? You would be surprised to see how these students in a Massachusetts high school took on taking on their education with "The Independent Project."The Independent Project What if online courses became more of a norm? For many people, this educator included, online education is become more and more popular in this day and age. This info-graphic shown on the following Edudemic link shows the progress and evolution of education since 1995. I will let this link speak for itself. Edudemic Infograph

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Tiny Desk Concert

When I first read about a tiny desk concert, I immediately imagined a kindergarten student with their pencils jamming away in his or her little desk. However, it is so much more than that. It is a whole series set up by NPR that introduces sets by amazing artists that you've likely never heard of. With that, I leave you to the link to watch Waxahatchee do a ten minute stripped down, fantastic performance. Secondly, a completely different sound comes to fruition when thinking of the atonal composer Penderecki. He has turned 80, and the dramatic screeching sounds of his music is being celebrated in a Warsaw music festival. This article found in the link at the end of this paragraph celebrates Penderecki the best way it can. What a great lead-in to 20th century music and difference of interpretation with some older students. Whether they love it or hate it, they will certainly have an opinion on his music.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Why Do Today What You Can ... Do...Sometime...

          Procrastination.  A topic I know a bit too well.  I always start with the greatest of intentions and end up on Woot searching for the daily deal that I will probably not end up buying because I am so cheap.  How many of you educators have started a web search in hopes of doing a great lesson plan for your class and ended up twenty youtube videos down the line, completely forgetting what your original search was intended to do?
          If it can happen to adults, it certainly can happen to students.  At my school, we have a 1:1 Macbook initiative with our 6-12 grade students.  It is an absolute blessing and curse because it allows for unlimited information, both practical and impractical.  Of course we have the ability to put limits on certain sites, but if we blocked every source of mindless time wasters, our tech squad would never leave their desks blocking and unblocking websites.  This is where Edudemic has come in to save the day!  They have given us a list of four different procrastination depleting tools to help keep both us and our students on the right task.  That is, if we put them on our laptops now and not when we have a chance to get around to it.
Click this link to find your saving grace. Now, not later, when it will eventually "slip your mind."