Paulo Freire once said: ‘I cannot be a teacher without exposing who I am.’ It is time we put our teachers in the spotlight and learn about who they are.
Since teachers are the ones who inspire us daily with their creativity, energy, and will to inspire students to learn & love music, we want to introduce a blog series of Interviews with the teachers. In these small series, we want to appreciate our teachers and learn about their missions and teaching approaches.
… And hopefully, to inspire students to become teachers one day, if they wish.
This time we talked to Meghan Kennedy, an Elementary School Music teacher who loves to create games, activities, and lesson plans to make music lessons more fun and enjoyable for elementary school kids.
So let's dive into who Meghan is and what her mission as a teacher is.
🏫 Why did you decide to become a teacher? 🏫
I always knew that I wanted to do something that would give me the opportunity to help others. When I was in high school, I was invited to help with a beginning band summer camp for 4th graders, and knew that that’s what I wanted to continue in my career! I had been playing flute and was part of the band program since I was in 3rd grade and was so excited to share my love of music with others. I’m so lucky that that’s what I get to spend each day doing now.
🎯 Can you tell us more about your mission? 🎯
My goal is to create a community of life-long music appreciators. I understand that most students will not pursue music as a career later in life. I want to help students develop skills that allow them to enjoy the music that is part of everyday life, be able to describe what they are listening to and why they do or do not like it, and to appreciate and help cultivate a community of arts supporters. Beyond musical appreciation, I want to give students a space to have fun learning experiences. Associating music learning with fun is a great way to instill a love of learning and an appreciation for fine arts that will last for a lifetime.
👦🏼 What is your favorite thing about elementary school children? 👦🏼
I love how uninhibited younger music learners are and how free they are to be themselves and fully enjoy musical experiences. They get so excited about new content, they get so into fun experiences and games, and most of them are really on board to try out silly activities. It’s always such a joyful experience to test out new games and activities and create music with them.
🎓 Finish the sentence: music education should be… 🎓
… for everyone. I am a strong believer in making music education accessible and fun for all. Everyone deserves a music education and I am blessed to have benefitted from and now getting to teach in a public school music program where I get to work with all of the students. It’s hard to go a day without finding music somewhere in your life, so I think it’s important that everyone has the opportunity to learn music. There are so many different ways to learn music and so many different things to learn about music. This aligns with my mission of instilling a love of music for life-long music appreciation.
🧘🏽 Advice for your fellow teachers? 🧘🏽
My biggest advice is to try your best to keep school work at school. That is much easier said than done sometimes, but I noticed a big difference in my mental health when I reprioritized and tried to keep all of my school work at school and have a separation when I got home. Some days this isn’t possible, but I don’t make that a regular occurrence. I have tried my best this year to end the school day and go home so I can make the most of my time outside of working hours.
🎼 What is your favorite song to sing together with kids? 🎼
'Down By The Bay' is an absolute favorite singalong! I especially love letting kids make up rhymes for the end of the songs. They think it’s so funny and it’s always a good time to laugh and have fun making music.
💆🏻 How do you deal with a bad day? 💆🏻
When I have had a bad day at school, I try my best to make the most of my time after school. Having the separation of time for school work and time for enjoying life at home helps with this. It’s okay to have bad days, but I have been trying to not let it ruin my entire day and to focus on the good moments of the day. I also have been trying to highlight 3 moments of the day that brought me joy and 3 things I am thankful for each day to reflect on the day in a positive way.
🏅 What's something you are really, really proud of, and why? 🏅
Something I’m really proud of is creating online resources for music educators. In the world of digital learning, I felt the need to make resources that would be free and easily accessible for music teachers. I created a series of call and response rhythm practice videos that I used with my own students and that I was so excited to see used with many other students. Outside of my work in the classroom, I spend quite a bit of time creating resources to share with other music teachers and I feel proud of the work that I have done with that hobby.
📖 I see that you share a lot of book suggestions. Name one book that each parent should read to their kids! 📖
'Over in the Meadow' is an absolutely beautiful song and there are some equally as beautifully illustrated versions. It incorporates animals (including families of animals), counting, and a gorgeous melody. It’s a very relaxing and special song to sing to my students, I know it would make a lovely lullaby to sing to a child.
📝 A nice quote for a good start to a day is… 📝
I really try to emphasize positivity so a quote I love is by Kid President “Be somebody who makes everybody feel like a somebody.” I also start all of my classes with positive affirmations so the messages that we all say to ourselves and each at the beginning of class are “I am calm. I am focused. I can do hard things. I can choose kindness. I am important.” These are quoted around my classroom and echoed by the students every day! They’re important reminders for the kids but also for myself.