Reply To: Confidence

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I absolutely agree with all of John’s advice, especially about the girls talking and the bathroom issues. I would add just a couple of things:

1. Give your chorus a chance to hear other choirs. If this can be done live, that’s the best. Perhaps the choir from the high school that you feed into can come and sing for you (or you can do a joint concert). When I take my choirs to performance assessment, we spend as much time talking about what they heard from other groups as we do reviewing our performance. If you can’t do it in a live setting, Youtube videos are a great source. Show them the good AND the bad, so that they learn to distinguish the sounds and understand what you’re asking of them.

2. Recognize that, especially with an all girls group, there is going to be the occasional day when the issue that is disturbing/disrupting the class has to be addressed. A couple of years ago, there was an incident on our campus that the kids came to class very upset about. Within a minute or two, it was apparent that we weren’t going to accomplish anything until we talked about what happened. So I took 10 or 15 minutes, we discussed the situation, and they were able to settle down and focus.

3. I would add to John’s advice about talking to have an attention signal to refocus the students when necessary. We have a school-wide signal: the teachers puts a hand in the air, says “may I have your attention, please,” and students are expected to respond by putting their hands in the air as they quiet down. Some of our teachers are experimenting with whole-brain teaching techniques with good results, and if I weren’t retiring this June, I’d probably give it a try.

The key to middle school teaching is flexibility. But I’m with John: I’ve taught from pre-school through college, and middle school is the best!

Good luck,