"Teaching is more than imparting knowledge; it is inspiring change. Learning is more than absorbing facts; it is acquiring understanding."
—William Arthur Ward
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 is the second interview in the series Interviews with the teachers. Last time we spoke with Meghan, but today we want to introduce you to Danielle. Keep on reading to find out more about her mission and teaching tips.
👩🏫 Describe yourself in 3 words. 👩🏫
Caring, fun, Dedicated.
🎯 Can you tell us more about your mission? 🎯
My mission is for all of my students to grow, as humans, through music. I believe each student who walks through my doors is a musician in their own right. My job is to help them to discover this side of themselves and explore where these possibilities may take them. I hope to help them develop a life-long appreciation for music through active discovery.. I believe in the value of middle school music as a means of identity, expression, and connection.
👦🏼 What advice would you give to a 12-year old self? 👦🏼
I think the biggest thing I would tell myself is to not worry about what others think. To spend more time focusing on myself and my goals, and being less concerned with the opinions of others.
💃 In your opinion, what are the best ways to engage your classroom?💃
To truly engage musicians, I think the classroom has to be a collaborative space. Students have to feel they can contribute to the classroom. They need a sense of ownership. That their voices, ideas, and opinions are heard, valid, and valued.
🧘🏽 Can you name 3 habits that have helped you reach your goals? 🧘🏽
Self-reflection - I spend a great deal of time reflecting on how I can grow as an educator. I try to make a habit of reflection on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. Even if it involves dedicating only a few minutes, I believe that self-reflection can be invaluable to learning, moving forward and achieving your goals.
Time management - While I’m certainly not perfect at managing my time, I believe planning, both short term and long term, have helped me achieve many of my goals. I try to block out my days, so I can see how I’m spending time. This includes blocking out time for the things that are most important to me - family and friends. Time blocking also always forces me to focus, as I know I have a set amount of time to accomplish a task or set of tasks.
Exploration - There is probably a time in my career where I would NOT have said this. However, over the years I have gained experience, shifted my perspectives on music education, and learned more about myself. I’ve grown more comfortable exploring. That includes everything from new lesson ideas to opportunities that come my way.
🧍What is your favorite thing about middle schoolers? 🧍
I love the challenge! Middle school age students experience so much on a day to day basis, which makes no two days the same. They keep me on my toes and challenge me, as an educator, to stay current. In addition, they are curious. Though it may not always come off that way, they want to know more. I love sharing something that catches their interest or helping them to learn a concept they feel like they will not be able to master,then witnessing them have a lightbulb moment! My wish is that they take this curiosity for music beyond the four walls of my classroom.
💆🏻How do you keep a work life balance? 💆🏻
Like many others, this is something with which I struggle. It is certainly an area I continue to work on. Boundaries have really helped me. I share clear times for when I can be reached for or give myself a specific amount of time to accomplish what I need. The reality is that there is always more to do. I try to schedule my work time and do my best to hold fast to that. When the time is up, I move on. I love timers, alarms and tools like Trello to help me stay focused and on task. I try to deliberately schedule my time, whether it’s for my family/friends, self, or work so I can focus solely on that.
📖 If you could instantly change one thing in education, what would that be? 📖
Equity. I believe everyone should have access to a quality and equitable music education experience.
🗣 Teacher secret tip that has helped you tons and you would like others to benefit from it. 🗣
I don’t think it’s a secret tip, but something that other teachers might benefit from hearing. I frequently work with pre-service teachers, and find myself reminding them of this quite frequently. It’s ok for things to get messy. Especially if it’s because you’re trying something new. Sometimes the best plans and activities are derived through a bit of organized chaos. Take the risks. Ask your students for feedback. Reflect. Then go again.