R-E-S-P-E-C-T Revisited, Part 1

Music teachers without their own classroom at times run into problems with classroom teachers. Here are suggestions on ways to approach these challenges courtesy of the general music forum:

Some problems

  • Teachers treating the music teacher as if he or she’s in the way
  • A cluttered floor, which precludes movement activities
  • Teachers talking during music instruction to a colleague or on the phone
  • Locked classrooms
  • Teachers keeping students from music instruction to make up work

Possible Solutions—with Faculty

Speak to teachers whose classrooms are causing problems.

  • Wait until you can speak to them with diplomacy and a cool head.
  • Make specific, polite requests: “Could you please make sure the floor is clear tomorrow? We’ll be dancing the polka, and I don’t want anyone getting hurt.”
  • Promise to leave the classroom in as good or better condition than you found it (and follow through).
  • Keep teachers updated on what you need/want to teach your class.

Talk to your principal. 

  • Outline how certain problems impede student learning.
  • Document problem behavior: Explain your plan, how it met national standards, how you followed the schedule, and how the teacher interfered.
  • To avoid being pegged a complainer, focus on how student learning was interrupted or impeded.
  • Point out that state laws list music as a core subject. Find out about your state at Arts Education State Policy Database.
  • Ask the principal to explain to classroom teachers that they must share their classrooms and cooperate fully.
  • Invite your administrator into your classes to observe your teaching; share your objectives and what students are learning.
  • Get approval to have a master key, so you’re never locked out of a classroom or multipurpose room.

Solicit collaboration on cross-disciplinary learning. Start small, maybe with 1 or 2 teachers. MENC member Andrea Peterson said, “When other teachers saw how powerful a learning experience it was, more people got on board.”

–Linda C. Brown, August 19, 2009, © National Association for Music Education (nafme.org)