Your Inspired Philosophy
I teach music to kids.
I teach kids music.
Which of these sentences better describes you as a choral music educator? Do your priorities center around kids, the music, both, or even something else? Are you convicted about your beliefs? Regardless of your beliefs, to be an effective teacher, you must not only define your priorities, but be able to articulate your philosophy of music education. Doing so not only helps you decide what music to teach and how to do it, but also helps INSPIRE the growth within your students and yourself.
But what INSPIRES you as a choral conductor-teacher? When I first started teaching, I was inspired by the thought of getting to teach, rehearse, and perform choral music; however, the more I taught, the more passionate I was about the kids in front of me…how they reacted to the music I taught, how they grew as young people, and how my leadership affected them both inside and outside of my classroom. I did a complete 180. Maybe I will revert back to my original philosophy, but the longer I teach, the more passionate I am about what I believe. Let me say this now: I don’t want you to believe what I believe. I want you to be passionate about what inspires you, because in turn, your passions INSPIRE your kids.
When I taught college, I reflected on how I could teach this to my groups of future music educators. I ultimately developed a pseudo-personality test, which I have included at this link [INSPIRE activity worksheet] Basically, I asked my students to select the words that best described them and equated it to different categories: Spiritual, Physical, Intellectual, Relational, and Emotional. These were grouped into two categories (though not mutually exclusive): Matters of the Head (Intellectual and Physical), and Matters of the Heart (Emotional, Relational, and Spiritual). My goal was to prove a point: we must teach from the head and the heart to be the most inspirational.
We followed with discussions, first in groups, and then through cross-team dialogue. The conversations that followed were simply breathtaking. Students that hardly spoke said the most moving things and those that typically dominated conversation were challenged mentally and moved emotionally. For my students, I challenged them to think about their purpose in our beloved field. Why do they want to teach? What is/are their purpose(s)? Passion(s)? Vision? Goals?
Developing and executing an INSPIRED philosophy necessitates reflection in four areas:
Creating & Building Relationships
Cultivating Leadership & Creating Leaders
Connecting Philosophy to Planning & Pedagogy
Growth Through Reflection
Future blogs will elaborate on these four areas, but it is important to remember that it is a combination of dreams, visions, and goals that lays the groundwork for inspiration. When you are grounded in what you believe, you in turn are passionate about it and your vision propels forward to your students. The goals are just short- and long-term steps to achieve your vision and purpose and let your philosophy come to life.
Are you inspired by what you do? Thanks for singing, sharing, and serving. Make today count.