Welcome to you Cohort 21 Blog. This journal is an integral part of your Cohort 21 experience. Here you will reflect, share , collaborate and converse as you move through the C21 Action Plan process.
This is your first post and an opportunity to share a little bit about yourself as a learner and leader. Please respond the to the following prompts below:
1) Reflect on your own personal learning journey and K-12 education. Identify one learning experience that you can point to as having made a significant impact on some element of your own growth and development. It could be that teacher and subject that really sparked significant growth or a trip that opened your eyes to a whole new world or way of thinking or a non-catastrophic failure that you learned so much from. Briefly describe the learning experience and identify the various supports, structures, mindsets and relational ingredients that were put in place by the teacher or facilitator that directly contributed to your growth and success.
About eleven years ago, I was fortunate to attend a Choral Conducting Symposium in Tuscany, Italy. Twenty-two music educators mostly from North America, but a few others from Europe and Australia were the chamber singers and we took turns to conduct the choir’s performance of an assigned piece from the extensive repertoire. The morning workshop sessions were given by a lady who was a specialist in a holistic approach to vocal performance. It was very foreign to all of us and quite uncomfortable. Each morning, she chose one of us to be her “subject” as she demonstrated how to improve a vocal skill. One morning, she chose me. Despite being very aware of being in the centre of a huge circle with all eyes on me, I went along with it as she was such a gentle character and I trusted her.
She produced a tiny bottle of an essential oil, I forget the exact scent. It might have been tea tree oil. She asked me to smell it. Then she requested that I close my eyes, inhale deeply and then hold a few seconds. While I held in my air, she asked me to “sing where the smell went”. There were a few giggles from my fellow participants, but I ignored them and listened carefully to the instructions. I then did what she said, while focussing intensely and produced the most beautiful sound I ever heard come from my own voice on a simple “oo”. I opened my eyes and everyone was looking at me. astonished.
What she had shown me was a way to basically open up space in my head, in order to sing with a full-bodied sound. Once I discovered how to do this once, I didn’t need the essential oil again to replicate the experience. The teacher was passionate about her subject and this was communicated to me because I was open-minded. I trusted her. She thought of an “outside the box” strategy rather than just using words, to teach me the concept.
The entire week was filled with moments like that. It was wonderful to be part of an ensemble, rather than always being the one directing. I had forgotten what it was like to be a singer in a choir as I hadn’t performed in a choir since university. It really made me think more about how to explain vocal skills to my elementary students, by creating visual and sensory experiences for them.
Afterwards, the guest conductor gave me a lovely compliment about the tone quality of my voice and my students also noticed the difference in my singing back at school, which meant more to me.
2) What is the one Learning skill (MOE) or Approach to Learning (IB ATL) that you feel is MOST important in this day and age? How do you intentionally build it into your curriculum and develop it in your students throughout the year?
Communication is most important in this day and age. In my subject area, listening is number one on our essential agreements. Students need to learn how to listen to each other and in music, they get to practise this in every class. We practise this by listening to a piece of music at the beginning of class. This helps students to settle and focus, before beginning a rehearsal or performance as a choir or an instrumental ensemble. Students have also commented that a full-body listening activity at the beginning of the class helps to set them up for success where other skills are concerned, such as self-regulation for example.
3) Insert an image below that best captures the essence of that Learning Skill or ATL. (Click on the “Helpful WordPress Video Tutorials” link in the left hand sidebar to learn how to insert it)
(Insert Image here – **Don’t forget to give the image correct attribution to let everyone know where you got it from** )