Teacher Interview #2

Here is my second teacher interview from my EDUC 200 assignment. If you would like the read the first one done with Molly, a teacher in Myanmar, you will find it here.

Judy is a seasoned teacher of 20 years who currently works as a full-time Music Specialist for grades two through five at Park Elementary in Hutchinson, MN. She gave the following answers to my 10 interview questions.

Question 1: What do you as a teacher do to engage students who are bored by the subject you are teaching, or even disinterested in learning altogether?

Students rarely get bored in music class at our school because we are constantly moving, singing, playing instruments or music games. Music is a very motivating subject area that appeals to almost all students, but I also strive to make every music class engaging, interesting and enjoyable. Occasionally, there are students who struggle in school because of behavior disorders, learning disabilities or other issues. Usually they struggle in all subject areas, not just music. If that occurs, our school has intervention strategies to help those students. If a student is struggling, I talk to that student individually to see if there is something that I can do to help them during music, or a music subject that they are especially interested in that I could cover during class that might help them feel more positive about music. I may need to make adjustments in the lesson plan or in my expectations of the student. I would also discuss it with the student’s homeroom teacher or other adults that work with them to see what strategies I can use to help the student in music class. Other behavior specialists may need to work with the student to help them change their attitude about school.

Question 2: How would you respond if a loud argument or fight broke out among some students in your classroom and no one would respond when you commanded them to stop?

Immediately call other adults who are in nearby classrooms to assist, and call the school office for assistance.

Question 3: How would you as a teacher deal with a student who seems to decidedly break the rules as a means of open rebellion to your authority?

Depending on what rule is being broken, I would give them a warning to fix their behavior. If the student does not fix it, they may be given a time out or be sent to Tiger Pause (the planning room) to discuss their behavior with the Planning Room teacher so that I could continue teaching the class. I would meet with the teacher and the student later to discuss the situation and how the student is going to fix it in future music lessons.

Question 4: Is there a time and a place for the use of punishment (detention, time out, removal of privileges, etc.) as a means of classroom management, or is the use of logical consequences (e.g. if student does damage, they must repair/replace it) more effective?

The consequence depends on the situation and the behavior. Usually, a student is given a warning to fix their behavior. If they do not fix it, they may end up sitting out of the activity and not being allowed to participate, or they may end up going to the planning room (Tiger Pause) to discuss it with the teacher there. I may meet with the student for a few minutes after class to discuss the situation and agree on a fix-it plan. Fix it plans may be verbal (a discussion and agreement given verbally) or written down. Parents may be called in some situations that are ongoing problems.

Question 5: What are you doing as a teacher to actively prevent and address bullying in your school and classroom?

We have a school wide bullying prevention policy in place, and a zero tolerance for bullying throughout the district. Bullying is discussed in the homeroom classroom through grade level books and lessons and supported in all specialist areas. Conflict managers at the fourth and fifth grade levels are trained and utilized during lunch/recess and playground use for all grades. The CARES program (Cooperation, Assertiveness, Responsibility, Empathy, Self-Control) is implemented school wide in all classrooms and specialist areas as well. In my own classroom, respect for all music skill levels and a spirit of cooperation and teamwork are emphasized. No one is allowed to laugh at another student’s mistakes or make fun of another student in any way.

Question 6: Which teaching strategy (direct instruction, lecture-discussion, guided discovery, or cooperative learning) do you tend to use the most and why?

I use a combination of all of the teaching strategies, but tend to do modeling and guided practice the most because of my subject area.

Question 7: Can you give an example (or two) of concrete visual aids (pictures, objects, charts, etc.) that helped you to teach abstract concepts to your students, and what resources did you use to find inspiration for such aids?

I use many pictures, posters and charts to help teach concepts. An example of this would be our Music Street bulletin board that shows the music scale as houses going up a street on a hill. On the side is a picture chart showing the hand signs used for each solfege note of the scale. Most of my ideas have come from workshops and classes that I have attended over the years.

Question 8: What was your worst experience as a teacher, and what do you wish you had done differently?

Many years ago, I had a very difficult 5th grade class with overall poor attitudes and lack of respect. I came to dread that class every time they were in music. I almost was in tears sometimes because they were so difficult to handle. It was toward the beginning of my music career when I was still working on classroom discipline strategies, and I didn’t want to admit to anyone that I was having trouble handling a class. If I had that class now, I would find as many ways to build up the positive as I could. I would find what I liked in each student and try to connect with each student at their level. I would also insist on very strict classroom guidelines from the first day. These would be enforced firmly, fairly, and consistently. I would not hesitate to discuss their behavior with their homeroom teacher and ask for suggestions or support.

Question 9: What is your favorite memory from your teaching experience?

My favorite memories include directing the Third Grade Musical every year. The students all have a special part in the show and everyone wears a costume. The students work so hard and we have so much fun rehearsing all the songs and dances. We perform for a packed house of parents, grandparents and community members and there is a sense of teamwork and collaboration between all of the students, parents and many teachers at the school.

Question 10: What is it that keeps you going every day and makes you glad you chose the teaching field?

I enjoy the students, and my passion for music which I love to share with all ages brings me joy and meaning in my life.

Judy was a joy to interview. Her many years of experience have definitely fine-tuned her teaching methods and given her  lots of wisdom. I took to heart especially what she said about the importance of asking advice from more experienced teachers when she was going through a difficult time as a new teacher. I know I will need lots of encouragement and advice from other teachers when I first begin teaching!

What did you find most helpful from this interview?



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