January 28, 2013 at 8:53 pm #19152
I have been teaching band in a medium size district for the last five years. My band have been good and most of my attrition has been low. This year however inlight of new assessment expectations I am hearing the age old adage “I hate m. sagar.” or I don’t like her so I’m going to quit. I have lost three kids from my 7th woodwind group and two from my 8th band but I hear from other students that more are going to quit because they don’t like how I am teaching and the expectation I have on behavior. I hold them to high behavior expectations. Can anyone give me some advice? I don’t think I will have much backup from my admin if they perceive the problem is the way I teach. I’m trying to find out what the issues are but the kids won’t necessarily talk to me. I don’t want to lose my reputation of being a strong band teacher because of things students are saying negatively about me as a teacher to other students. Am I just a sucky teacher? I am really in a funk now….January 29, 2013 at 7:09 am #19154
Welcome to what is known as January. Kids are unpredictable, especially this time of year. We have a highly successful program, and have grown from 105 kids to 190 kids in just 3 years. Yet, each year around this time, I live life with a pit in my stomach over who is going to quit, what is going to happen 3 years from now, etc. etc. Sometimes you just lose a larger number of kids….if you’re track record is good, then try not to worry about it too much. If you are doing something differently this year, then assess what you are doing and what affect it might be having.
I try to keep the attrition percentage below 10% each year…….we’re usually well under that. Out of 190 kids, we’re losing 9 this year…..and it’s driving me absolutely nuts. I’m starting to tell myself to worry about only the things I can control, but it’s easier said than done. Also, if you are losing the “right” kids, that can often be a good thing, especially if it’s a clique of kids…they will drag the entire group down with negativity anyhow.January 29, 2013 at 12:40 pm #19178
I’m in my first year at my school, and the kids loved the guy before me. I’m in the same boat as far as assessment requirements and whatnot, and the students (probably about 30% of them) are frustrated with the amount of non-performance work they have to do. It seemed to help when I explained to the kids what all I have to do regarding their grades and state requirements. I told them that I would love to be able to play more and give fewer assignments but that the state requires that I do things such as rank them as high, medium, or low based on things that don’t pertain to band (and I make it quite clear that I think it is morally wrong to label students like that) or ensure that they are doing quantifiable work during the entire class period (which is why “flutes and clarinets play; everyone else finger along” is now poor teaching and doing worksheets that take their focus away from the literature is good teaching). Of course, not all of the changes are terrible (and I wouldn’t actually have them play the entire period and do away with music theory and history), but this way they understand that our hands are tied as educators.
But there are always going to be beginners who hit that point where it stops being easy and starts requiring some actual work and decide they don’t want to have anything to do with such a class when they could just be in study hall. I figure that this particular era of overdoing assessments will be over within 5 years, and hopefully the changes at that time will be better.
I doubt the admin will decide that, after several years of building the band program to the level that you have, you must be a terrible teacher because the kids said you were. Most administrators were educators at some point and know that a seventh grader probably isn’t in a position to judge your skill as a teacher.
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