Sunday, 2 November 2014

Looking back and running forward

I would like to quote the great educational theorist, Kenny Rogers (okay I am talking about THE Kenny Rogers, but he made an excellent point that I will apply in a different context):

Famous for his duets, Rogers talked about how he chose singing partners. “You don’t start with a partner, you start with a song—that’s what makes it work,” he said. “I’ve learned this about duets. Everybody sings better on a duet. It’s like running a hundred-yard dash. You can run it as fast as you think you can. But if you put someone faster next to you, you’re going to run faster.”

Kenny was talking about some of his most successful songs being duets. He liked doing duets as he felt working with other great artists made him sing and perform at a higher level. I heard the story of the recording of Kenny's most famous duet, "Islands in the Stream", a duet he sang with Dolly Parton and a song written for Kenny by The Bee Gees. The Bee Gees in the early 80's were ready to get rid of the massive stereotype hanging over them that they were a disco act (and by this time tastes had changed and they were not the flavour of the month anymore). The Bee Gees wanted to try new things and write for other artists in different genres. As they started the recording process for the song, things just did not seem to click. Kenny had a hard time finding the right feeling for the song and no one was happy with the results. Kenny found out that Dolly was working in the same recording studio and he asked her to come by the recording room where they were working. Kenny wanted to try it as a duet with Dolly and rest is karaoke history. 

I started my 15th year of teaching this year. For the last eight years I have had more or less the same sort of classes (a music teacher at Riffel Catholic High School in Regina). I love my job, but certainly there is a challenge of staying motivated as certain things can become routine. Trying to improve and innovate my teaching was the reason I started in the master's program three years ago. I can say without a doubt the last two months have been some of my most enjoyable of my whole teaching career. The reason for this is all of the new skills and technologies I have learned from this class from presenters, our teachers and my fellow educators taking the class with me. Everyone has been so generous with sharing their knowledge and at first I felt very intimidated. I felt like there were so many wonderful ideas being shared and I had very little to give back in return. 

Up until now, I have never really blogged, shared my learning, shared my students learning or used social media to share education knowledge. I was overwhelmed as so many in the class not only were talking about innovative new technologies, but had already been using them for a long time! I took the advice of many including +Kelly Christopherson +Jennifer Stewart-Mitchell +Lisi Wang and just dived right in. Like Kenny, I instinctively felt like I needed to get out of my comfort zone and try something new.  I know I was not alone in this feeling through our Tuesday night sessions, but it was with the encouragement of these people that really convinced me to just go for it. The following are some of the best resources I have found in the last month:
+Sue Waters was fantastic and I was shocked that she actually commented on one of my comments in a conversation. Sue pointed me in the right direction of some blogs specific to music education and I credit her with really pushing me to discover blogging.
Here is the blog I started for my music program. The site is easy to use and I can often update it with images from the class as it is happening!
Planboard is great! I now use it to schedule my lessons, plan units and it even ties into the Saskatchewan curriculum. I shared this with my staff and now many teachers at my school are using it. I am working with an intern and she is able to share all of her lessons with me via Planboard.
I never knew what a MOOC was when this class started. I did a little digging and found Coursera,  which is the largest MOOC site out there. I found a great music course on song writing offered by Berekly. I enrolled and I am about halfway through the class.
This is the class I am taking. Pat Pattison, the instructor, delivers a very interesting course. Up until now, there has been very little music discussed as it mostly deals with lyrics. At this point it is more a creative writing class, but that is okay. In the class, I watch videos of Pat's lectures, study song structure, look at examples from existing song, create my own lyrics, review and rate songs by other students in the class and have my songs critiqued.

One of the biggest challenges so far in our EC & I class is finding time. There are so many good resources out there and I need time to discover them. The resources I mentioned above were the ones I have focused on, but there are so many I would like to examine in the next month.

To summarise, it feels pretty crazy as there is so much to learn I feel like I am running in a race with my classmates. Not in a direct competitive way, but I want to contribute and get caught up. At this point I feel like I am contributing and I have had some nice comments on some of the items I have contributed. Even though there is only a month left in this class I am proud of what I have accomplished in the last month and I am looking forward to keep running forward!

Someone, somewhere is singing their heart out to, "Islands in the Stream" right now.

1 comment:

  1. That would be me, singing my heart out, inside my head, to "Islands in the Stream". Thank you for sharing the back story about that song. Kenny and Dolly are a great pair, and the connection you made to how we can also grow when we collaborate as educators is genius! Thank you for sharing.