Year #2 has come and gone in a blink, and I am both sad to see the school year end but also excited for the rest and newfound free time to pursue some creative projects this summer.
People always say that your first year of teaching is the hardest or “the worst,” and that your second year will be a breeze. If you had asked me at the end of last year if I thought it was hard, I would have said no. Despite being new and learning the procedures of the school, I felt my year was successful and didn’t really have that many bad days. In retrospect, I now see the comparison to my second year. This year, I knew what to do (or I should have and just needed some friendly reminding!), and I felt more comfortable putting my personal spin on rehearsals and lessons.
Some of my favorite moments of my teaching career occurred this year, including our concert with Clemson University. In many of my student’s reflection letters (an assignment that I’ll be posting about very soon!), the Clemson concert was the highlight of their years. Being able to provide experiences for my students brings my heart joy, especially when I realize how much they gain and learn.
As for my teaching, I think I have improved in a few areas. My conducting skills are improving, and my left hand doesn’t feel like such an awkward limb anymore. I’m good at keeping rehearsals productive while maintaining a level of entertainment. Not that I’m there to put on a show, but I found that if we laugh a little in each rehearsal, students forget about what happened before class or who they are fighting with and focus in the rehearsal better. Lastly, I feel like I have gained (most) of my student’s creative trust. I implemented a new fundraiser in the fall that they weren’t too excited about until they saw it coming together. They liked it so much that we did another one in the spring and now it is becoming a part of our yearly calendar! Having that trust has allowed me to feel comfortable sharing my ideas with them and has opened the door for collaboration and having their creative input on our organization.
There’s still much to work on, though. Our comments from Choral Festival this year had consistent comments on each piece regarding musical line and dynamic contrast. I have focused mainly on music literacy for two years, which is extremely important, but I need to weave in musicality techniques to improve our performances. Also, when March rolled around and housed every choral event ever created, I let a lot of important daily instruction disappear. We didn’t sight read as much, our vocal warm-ups became predictable and less productive, and rehearsal plans were not executed well. I definitely need to plan more effective, managable rehearsals during busy times so that valuable time isn’t lost.
I have already started planning changes for next year, some being improvements, others just experiments. My goal is to always incorporate changes into each year to keep things fresh and avoid students and myself becoming complacent and begin saying, “That’s how we’ve always done things.” I find that to be dangerous. How can we encourage creativity if everything becomes routine? I’d rather we have that saying in regards to how we respect one another, how we welcome new people into our choir or greet visitors, and how we represent ourselves and our organization in the school.
All in all, year #2 was awesome, and I’m looking forward to year #3!
Teachers: If you have reflected on your school year, feel free to leave the link in the comments below!