Helping Hands – Music Teacher Matchup
If I’ve learned anything over the last few years of blogging and interacting with teachers around the world, it’s that music teachers are some of the sweetest, most caring, hardest working people around. We give endlessly to students and spend our free time burning practice CDs, working on costumes/sets, writing grants for instruments, attending music education workshops, and so many other things that aren’t part of the normal teacher contract. We’re endlessly seeking new ideas, songs, and games to use in the classroom. We’re spending our nights and weekends trying to recreate that cool DIY, Pinterest project that we know will be perfect for kindergarten music. We invest ourselves in every single student knowing that even if they don’t become All-State, first chair that they might some day sing while they rock their baby to sleep or join their local community choir. Music teachers around the world do everything they can to inspire students and create a life-long love for music.
When you’re so invested in your work and your care for students AND when you are the only person in your building (maybe even your district) who teaches music it’s easy to feel isolated. Other teachers in my building can stop by a colleague’s room on their plan time and after school to work through a student issue or share a cool resource they found. The first grade team at my school has 10 homeroom teachers. TEN! Imagine all the cool resources and ideas they can come up with together. Even though other teachers grumble at having to sit through yet another grade-level meeting, at least they get the opportunity to share ideas and resources and find feedback on a daily basis. As music teachers, we aren’t able to do that. The closest music teacher to me teaches several miles down the road and even if I wanted to call her on my planning period I can’t because our planning periods are not at the same time. It’s so difficult to connect! I remember my first few years of teaching and how lonely I would end up feeling.
But you are not alone. Go to any state music conference or local Orff or Kodaly workshop and you’ll find other people just like you who are bursting with passion and creativity and joy. Teachers all over the country are blogging and sharing on YouTube and Facebook. Check out this page to find links to lots of great music teacher blogs. Get online and search Facebook groups like “I’m a General Music Teacher,” “Music Teachers,” or “Elementary Music Teachers” and you’ll find an amazing and supportive community of people who are there to help and share ideas and lift you up when you really need it. Sometimes there are even state/local groups of music teachers like the “Elementary Music Teachers of Georgia” or “Texas Elementary Music Teachers.” Help and support is out there!
One-on-One Support – Finding a Helping Hand
There are definitely times when general/online help isn’t enough. It’s great to be able to pose a question to a Facebook group of thousands and get their responses and ideas, but sometimes you just need a friend to turn to so that you can ask questions and look for support. There are so many times during the year when I reach out to my friends and say, “How do you approach this concept?” or “Do you know of a really good resource for this song?” or a very general “Help, I have to teach _______ and I don’t know what I’m doing!” Having a mentor/friend who can step in and say, “Yeah, I remember struggling with that too.” or “I don’t know, but here’s how I might handle that situation.” is a huge relief.
There are music teachers around the world with training and experience with so many different areas. Every time I meet a new teacher I learn about their situation and how they teach and I’m constantly amazed at the new and inventive things they’ve come up with. Instead of feeling isolated from one another, why not be intentional and make connections with one another. We might be in different geographic locations, but that doesn’t have to separate us. Facetime, Skype, phone calls, and Facebook make distance so much easier to navigate and things like Google Docs, Dropbox, and TeachersPayTeachers make it so much easier to share resources an ideas.
Reach Out – Make a Connection!
What if you had a dedicated “helping hand” that you can reach out to when you need a little support? Someone you could bounce ideas off of, ask for help, give a shout out if you had a big success, etc. You could ask “stupid questions” that you don’t feel comfortable asking in those online Facebook forums (guess what, we all have those questions). You could ask about favorite resources, books, and lesson ideas. You could share pictures of your classroom and get advice about how to decorate or rearrange or update. You wouldn’t have to contact them weekly or monthly but just send them a message every now and again to check in, see how they’re doing, ask for help if you need it. This could be sort of like a penpal with the extra benefit that the other person also teaches music and can help you out with ideas.
If you are interested in making a connection with another music teacher out there, just click HERE or on the image below to fill out a short survey. You’ll be asked for some contact information, details about your training/interests, and what areas you’d like to talk with another teacher about. Share a little paragraph about YOU and your teaching situation. Once enough teachers submit their information you’ll be matched up with another person who shares interests with you. You can help them and they can help you! You might plan to do a video chat once a month, exchange emails now and then, or maybe just connect on Facebook or become friends on Pinterest and share resources and ideas that you really love. Your level of engagement is up to you! Click on the image below to get started!