End of the COVID School Year
Wow! What a year it has been. Music education has certainly changed over the past 15 months. One common theme that arises when talking to colleagues seems to be the loss of time. Online teaching requires extra time to prepare, present, and assess. No wonder we are exhausted. Yes, change is hard, but we have endured. We have adjusted to the new normal and are ready to move forward. Some practices that have emerged during the pandemic are worth keeping, while others, should be discarded. Here are my thoughts.
Practices to Discard
Blended learning: Can an educator be successful in teaching students face-to-face while simultaneously teaching another group of students online? I’ve seen valiant teachers struggle very successfully in blended learning environments. But despite their efforts, are the students really learning?
Online conferences: I have mixed feelings about this one. The AMEA 2021 Conference was a highlight for me. I watched great presentations, witnessed inspiring performances, and didn’t have to pay for a hotel room. All things considered, I would rather dig a little deeper into my wallet and spend a few precious days with my colleagues than sit in front of a computer screen.
Parking lot choir performances: If you do not know what I’m talking about, here is the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tl4OoOxrgUg. This is human ingenuity at its best, but I doubt that this type of performance is what the composers intended.
Practices to Keep
Web conferencing: Everyone has become more skillful using Zoom, Google Meet, etc. This is an efficient method of communication. You can speak to large numbers of people without leaving your office and you can exit the meeting without being noticed.
Social Emotional Learning: Music education does more than develop singers who can hit the high notes and instrumentalists who perform with amazing virtuosity. As Bennett Reimer professed, music connects people to their feelings. Campaigns are growing to use the tenets of SEL as a means to assist students with their psychological needs. Music education can play an important role in healing the emotional scars caused by the pandemic.
Web resources: The number and quality of resources on the web have exploded. New resources are being developed every day. I continue to be amazed at what I am able to find.
Students recording themselves: Self-evaluation is an important part of learning. School shutdowns have forced more students to record and evaluate their own performances. This is a good thing! How can we truly understand our abilities if we do not listen to ourselves?
Visions for the Next School Year
As we return to the classroom, I’d like to share three goals for the upcoming school year. First, the HED will play a greater role in promoting professional development opportunities across the state. Our members and their institutions host many of these events. We can help them attract participants. Second, the HED will facilitate reciprocal relationships between institutions of higher education and Pk- 12 schools. We need each other, so let’s communicate! Third, COVID has taken much of the enjoyment out of the classroom. The HED will continue working on ideas to put the excitement back into teaching. One idea has been to partner with our C-NAfME chapter and develop a “Festival of Music Lesson Presentations.” That may be the spark that ignites the joy we are missing. If you have a suggestion, please share it.
In closing, find time to disconnect this summer and breathe. Next year may be the best school year ever!