Learning Where You Least Expect It

I have been thinking a lot as I come up to my first year teaching anniversary, meaning I have been away from Manhappiness for almost a year. There are days I really miss Manhattan and K-State because I don’t attend classes; I teach them. I don’t go to rehearsal; I run them. I can’t roll out of bed in sweats and run to class, I have to put on dress clothes and drive 40 minutes 🙂

While I think back to the more influential things I encountered on campus, I realized that I am a great teacher because of my experiences at K-State, (not to toot my own horn). I had some really neat experiences that I can transfer to my classroom and here are the greatest hits.

  1. Dr. Kelly Welch’s Classes. I was lucky enough to take Human Development and Human Sexuality from her in person on campus. Dr. Welch is a FANTASTIC educator with great classroom management and compassion. I learned SO much about teaching middle school from her Human Sexuality class; why kids act weird (hormones) and how to spot unhealthy relationships (this applies to more than just students, sadly.) If you ever get a chance to take a Dr. Welch class or just take her a Starbucks and introduce yourself, it is definitely worth meeting her!
  2. Culture and Context in Leadership through the School of Leadership Studies. I feel horrible because I can’t remember who my teacher was, but that class was fantastic. Learning so many different things from different people with different perspectives really helped me develop my educational philosophy. Another must-take class.
  3. K-State Marching Band. I was a clarinet player in The Pride for three years. It was one of the hardest but most enjoyable things I have ever done. The discipline, management and leadership I learned through the organization is second to none. Dr. Frank Tracz is a hard-working, high-expecting and excellence-driven man who has made the band great. My kids can’t believe that I was in the band (especially since I teach choir!) and it is truly one of the coolest things I have ever been involved in. I could talk about the KSUMB and the band department all day long, but I will spare you. 🙂
  4. College of Education Catalyst. The Catalyst taught me how to use a copy machine and a laminator. This may be the most important skill of all! I actually worked there for a semester and learned a lot about logistics of a school environment, I would highly recommend working there!
  5. Dr. Julie Yu. Dr. Yu is the co-director of Choral Activities. I look up to this woman so much. She is amazing. I want to be her (but not in a creepy way!) While I was busy with band (and wasn’t a choral major), Dr. Yu ALWAYS took the time to say hi and see how I was. I had the pleasure of being in her Women’s Choir for a semester and I learned so much about choral directing, which turned out to be invaluable in my current profession. To this day, I still admire Dr. Yu. She is another woman you should know, no matter who you are.

Of course there are many, many more people and events who have influenced me over the years, but these are some that help me in my current job.

My advice to you is to try everything; you never know what will help you connect to your kids!

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Don’t Fear the Middle Schoolers

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Last year’s 7th grade choir playing with props.

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My 8th grade choir women dancing to the Cupid Shuffle.

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My pep club kids in the Lansing HS Homecoming Parade. (We Won 3rd place!)

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Some of my 6th graders working on a choreography project. These kids can DANCE!

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My Show Choir experimenting with a Selfie Stick.

Do these look like kids you should fear?

Honestly, I was TERRIFIED of middle schoolers when I started my training at K-State, mostly because I remembered my middle school years. Yikes.

I am here to debunk the myths. I promote teaching middle level because my whole thought process has changed. I originally wanted to be a big time high school band director (think Olathe, Blue Valley, Shawnee Mission, etc.) then I got the opportunity to work with elementary kids so all I wanted to do was elementary (especially Kinders!). I took this job with 6-8 graders, thinking it would be ok for a few years, then I would go back to elementary.

Now I have fallen in love with the middle level. I get 6th graders that are still elementary; they want to please you, they still have that young spirit, but they can still follow high expectations. 7th graders are in that awkward stage of finding who they are so they need you to set a positive example of character, while 8th graders are starting to grow up. They will do what you ask, but with a more adult flair. You are able to start to discussing more adult matters and the true meanings of things, like song lyrics. They are also able to lead and take care of the 7th and 6th graders.

I don’t know if I could go back to elementary. I treat my kids like adults; I expect them to solve problems, take care of themselves and take responsibility for their actions. At this age, I can teach those skills, which I really enjoy.

If you ever encounter middle school kids, don’t be afraid. They mean well, I promise. They might fight back or cry or roll their eyes, but they are thankful for your attention, for your care and for you just being there. This is the age where we can make the most difference.

There are scarier things than middle schoolers, like certain parents and spiders. Even then, spiders are worse than (most) parents.

Have a great week!

-K

 

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Choir Council: Getting Students Involved

My kids are better at my job that I am most of the time. They have such great ideas that I never think of; they don’t have a formal training that has put the traditional dos and dont’s in your mind, limiting creativity.

When I was in school choir, you stood on the risers, sang, then left. There was no crazy dance moves, minimal talking to the audience and it was a traditional choir concert. This is where I learned my discipline that I teach my kids.

What I have learned from my kids is that we can loosen up; music is about creativity! Concerts are to show off what we do in class, which is have fun! There can be decorations and dancing and costumes and props and skits and other fun things that create a well-rounded experience for my singers.

I have started a choir council to help plan our Christmas/Holiday concert in December. Kids applied to be on the council, since we meet during their study hall. I would only take students who had good grades because they wouldn’t need the study hall for the few days we met.

We had two brainstorming sessions, and now all of our business will be taken care of via Google Classroom. During the brainstorming session, kids threw out ideas for songs, choreography, costumes, decorations, program design and other aspects of the concert. My intention is to give them ownership and responsibility of the program. They applied to be on committees such as the Costuming committee or the decorations committee, and they would plan, prepare and execute these things (with my advice, of course, they’re still in middle school!)

I won’t give all the details away yet, but here are some things they have already come up with:

-Each choir (a total of 6) will have a holiday-themed name

-We will have an audience sing-along, led by student conductors.

-We might decorate the stage with large wrapped presents and lights.

-The kids want our principal to dress up as Santa (we’ll see if that happens!!)

-We will sing a variety of pop, traditional and sacred pieces, while also highlighting a German students’ culture to sing in German!

More ideas to come, this is just a taste!

🙂

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Brighten Someone’s Day Wall

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Originally I started the “Brighten Someone’s Day” wall to cover up a blank white wall. I thought that a few kids would write silly things, then someone would draw something inappropriate and I would have to take it down. Boy, was I wrong.

My kids continue to surprise me. The feeling they have and how they interact with each other are amazing. Many times they can’t understand what they want or know how to communicate things, but this wall proved me wrong. This allowed kids to express themselves, encourage others and prove support.

I encouraged them to write on the wall, but no one really took me up on the offer. There was one day we ended class a little early so I could do dress fittings and one particular class filled it up when I wasn’t paying attention. I looked at the wall when they left and almost cried. Here are things they wrote:

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After two class periods.

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I had to graffiti too. Ms. Scheuerman <3 you!

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And this…. We have a student who was struggling and someone wrote this for them.

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Fall Decorations

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Being a crafter and a teacher is a dangerous combination. I get excited by the changing seasons and the holidays so I decorate my apartment, but it is only a matter of time before I decorate my classroom. So far, I have recieved great feedback about decorating my room because many middle school teachers don’t decorate their rooms; they feel it is too elementary. I personally don’t care if it’s elementary, I think it’s FUN!

Happy Fall, Ya’ll!

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Sick Days for Educators

SickTeacher

There is a 1000% chance that your body will revolt on you during the school year. A kid will sneeze in your face or you will somehow come in contact with something nasty that will knock you off your feet for a few days.

I have had the pleasure to already have to use two sick days. In so many words, it sucks. Not only do you feel terrible, you still receive a million emails from school telling you what you missed and how far behind you are now that you’ve missed 8 hours of class.

Here is what I missed today:

-6th grade supervision

-5 hours of choir rehearsal (our concert is 3 weeks from today)

-2 classes of Music Appreciation (our midterm is Friday)

-I have rescheduled 6th grade choir twice for pep club and today for being sick.

-My pep club concession stand,  that I am in charge of, is in disarray because I couldn’t organize it today for the volleyball game.

-Organizing a pep club float for the high school homecoming parade next week

-Recording students for the KMEA All-State Choirs and the SWACDA District Choir

PLUS, I sat on the couch and worked the entire day. I would be better off just feeling like I’m dying at school.

There is always something that goes wrong with sub plans; Google Classroom doesn’t work, the internet is down, there is an assembly or something that throws off the schedule, the lions escape from the zoo and runs through the school…..

You have to try as hard as you can to stay properly hydrated, sleep enough and antibacterialize as much as possible, but you will still get sick. It will still suck, but everyone will understand. Kids will be supportive. Take care of yourself first!

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The Google Suite for Education

GOOGLE= THE BEST

There, I said it.

The Google resources have made my teaching so much easier. I can go (basically) paperless (dependent on WiFi connection).

My school is a 1:1 iPad school, which comes with its own pros and cons, but the biggest pro is that we can go paperless.

The Google Docs package includes a web and app-based platform that allows for online collaboration and sharing. With programs similar to the Microsoft Office suite, here is how the Docs platform compares.

Word= Docs. This is a word processor that is similar to Microsoft Word. It is NOT as complex as the Word that I learned in high school, but for middle school purposes it works really well.

6th Grade Playlist Project- Example of Google Doc

Excel= Sheets. I love Google Sheets. It is a simplified version of Excel, which works well for t-shirt orders and budgeting. I am in charge of 3 budgets (choir, drama and pep club), and Sheets allows me to send a constantly-updating sheet to someone and they always have the most up to date information.

Classroom Supply Order- Example of Google Sheets

Powerpoint=Slides. Slides is similar to Powerpoint, again is simplified. I use Slides because I can easily upload my presentations to Google Classroom so my students can go back and see what we talked about in class while they are doing their homework.

Musical Instruments-Example of Google Slides

Google Forms does not have a Microsoft equivalent (that I know of.) I LOVE forms because I can write tests and give them via iPad. Each form that is turned in piles the information into an excel file, which makes it easy to see. You can also get add-ons that will GRADE THE TESTS FOR YOU! I haven’t played with the app, Flubaroo, but many teachers I know like it.

6th Grade Instrument Test- Example of Google Forms

YouTube. YouTube is vital to my classroom. I have students make recordings, I make recordings and I use videos from all over the world. I can make a playlist for my kids to see so everything is organized by topic. YouTube is owned by Google, which allows you to seamlessly share, send and show videos via Google Classroom and Gmail.

YouTube-Kelsey Scheuerman’s Channel

Gmail email is easy to use. I have a personal email account plus one that students can use to share files with me. I used Gmail when I was at K-State (because I didn’t like 365 and I hated the one before that more).

Google Classroom is a FANTASTIC idea. Similar to Edmodo (which I have grown to despise), Google Classroom allows me to post videos, assignments and comment on student work while also allowing the kids the participate in discussion. If you are looking for an easy web and app based platform to communicate with your students, try Classroom.

Everything that you do with the Google suite is stored in Google Drive, which is a FREE dropbox program. You can easily share and send documents and folders, which makes keeping connected easier and easier.

Did I mention all these things are FREE?! WHAT?!

via GIPHY

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Flipping the Music Classroom

I have always wanted to try flipping my music classroom simply to see what all the fuss is about. We talked about it at K-State and many of my music colleagues felt that it would never work. I’m here to say that it CAN be done, you just need to get creative!

Unfortunately I had to be sick today. I have a cold that is kicking my butt. Luckily I had an in-service day yesterday that allowed me to make some videos to upload to Google Classroom so my students wouldn’t miss out on my lecture.

I design packets that students must fill out during the video. The nice thing about a video is that they can stop and start it as needed. The packet includes guided practice, notes that they fill out and keep for future tests and a quiz review at the end.

I used this for a lecture for my 7&8 Grade Choirs about rhythm and key signatures. We have been discussing the basic elements of music in class and this is where we have gotten so far.

I will debrief with the kids and see if they like this format. I have been doing a modified flipped classroom with some of my 6th grade units in music appreciation, which has worked well. I will post all of these items as examples. It is perfect? No, but it works when I take a lot of cold medicine and would rather sleep on the couch for the day 🙂

6th Grade Music Appreciation

Instructions: Watch 8 videos (total) from the South America Playlist and the Asia Playlist. Using the content of the videos, write a 3-4 sentence paragraph about each video, explaining what is happening in the video, which country this tradition is from and how it may relate to your life. Please use complete sentences, proper punctuation and do not use text speak! Submit via Google Doc

Asia Playlist

South America Playlist

7th Grade Rhythm Video and Packet

7th Grade Rhythm Packet (from various sources)

Rhythm Video Lecture:

8th Grade Key Signature Video

 

The problem with making videos is that it is super awkward. When you don’t wear make-up, you can tell!  When you have a vocal tick (I say “awesome” and “you guys” all the time) you notice!

Overall, it is nice to do video lectures, plus you don’t have to re-do them and you can keep them for years if you want!

 

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School Safety

In light of the lockdown of the K-State Campus last week, I have been thinking a lot about campus security. As teachers, we are responsible for the safety of our students, which, if you think about it, is TERRIFYING.

There are so many bad things that can happen:

-A kid can go into anaphylactic shock from a trigger like mold or peanut butter in your room

-Someone can have a rare seizure disorder which requires an immediate call for an ambulance.

-A kid can harm another kid intentionally.

-A kid can harm another kid accidentally.

-A kid can have a panic or anxiety attack about being around another student in your class.

-An intruder can come into the school, armed or unarmed.

-A robbery or other crime can happen outside the school.

My school is in the proximity of the Lansing Minimum Security Prison and the Leavenworth National Maximum Security Prison. PRISONS. FULL OF PEOPLE THAT DID BAD THINGS.

That, plus now we are being trained on things like bomb threats, biohazard and environmental danger; it is downright terrifying.

LMS is an ALICE school, which is a philosophy that gives the teacher options on keeping their kids safe, which includes Run (get out of the building), Hide (lock down in place, barricade and hide) or fight back (throw things and attack the attacker to disable him (or her!)). I appreciate that we have options. We have a large building and I have a large room with many extra rooms. I also have a door that goes outside, which allows me to have more options than most teachers.

Last year we had an intruder drill. It was the scariest thing I have ever had to do. I had not been trained on what to do (I had ALICE training at an Olathe Substitute training, but didn’t know MY district’s policy) and I had 25 kids in my room. I did the best I could: I grabbed my laptop, keys, cell phone, walkie-talkie and emergency binder and instructed the kids to move their backpacks away from the windows so it looked like we weren’t in the room. I locked all the doors (which now are required by the fire marshall to be locked at all times) and moved my folder cart on wheels in front of the door. I instructed the kids to go to our practice room area, huddle together and create a perimeter with chairs and music stands. I then pushed both pianos in front of each entrance to the room. Honestly, I thought we did a pretty great job for not knowing anything.

Eventually, my principal came around, started yelling for us because he couldn’t find us and we came out. The “intruder” was in the library, which was on the other side of the building, which meant we should have just gone outside. I was proud of what we accomplished and my principal basically said we could survive a war in that room, so I will pat myself on the back for that one.

For this year, I put together a small emergency kit that is in our safe location. It contains:

-a few water bottles, candy and granola bars in case we are there for a while.

-An extra copy of every piece of our emergency binder, medical alert information and rosters, just in case.

-an extra ethernet cable, to be used as a weapon

-bandages and antibacterial

-plus a hockey stick is propped behind the door, mostly to confuse the kids

 

As of this year, our alerts now contain a biohazard alert, which means there is a chemical spill (or something of the like) inside or outside the building. We have been instructed to tape plastic to the perimeter of each door, which I haven’t recieved instructions about how to go about that yet.

We also have normal fire and tornado drills, which work like clockwork.

The best thing you can do it watch every situation. Watch the kid who gets agitated easily. Watch the bullies and who they are bullying. Survey parking lots and after school activities for creepers and report what you see. It is better to report something and have it be nothing than to not report and have someone get hurt.

Unfortunately we live in a time where we have to be watching all the time. I live alone and am constantly checking my locks and if my blinds are drawn, not because I am afraid, but because I am pro-active. I live in a VERY safe part of Johnson County, but creepers are everywhere (right, Minecraft people?)

Stay Safe, Wildcats.

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Expectations and Procedures in the Middle School Music Classroom

We are in our fourth week of school, which I can honestly say is amazing. Being able to start the year out with my own expectations and procedures is a Godsend. My kids know exactly what I want and how I want it done, which allows me to have more freedom to try new things, which is a benefit for them.

Since school has started, I have made a few parent phone calls regarding behavior. Each one starts with, “Your child is not in trouble, I am letting you know the behaviors I am seeing that create a red flag and I would like to talk about them so you know what is going on.” Each parent I have initiated contact with using this phrase has been overwhelmingly supportive because they see that I want to help their child, not just pick on them or embarrass them in class. This philosophy has helped me SO MUCH as far as discipline because, luckily, the parents have squelched most of the issues from home.

As predicted, I have changed some of my procedures. Bell work has been thrown by the wayside, (I was afraid that would happen), but I am working to get my act together. I had a very good friend of mine come in and clinic my choirs yesterday and he called me out for not doing certain things (i.e. teaching solfege, the devil’s syllables! Just kidding.), which is helpful for me to hear from a music colleague what is going well and not going well. Music is one of those things that you hear repeatedly and eventually you hear what you want to hear, not what is actually happening. A fresh set of ears is always appreciated to pick up on things that maybe I don’t hear or have glossed over. Thanks to Alex Spence to working with my babies!

My wonderful friend, and fellow #MusicEdCat, Alex Spence, performing a gorgeous piece in Hebrew for my Show Choir!

My wonderful friend, and fellow #MusicEdCat, Alex Spence, performing a gorgeous piece in Hebrew for my Show Choir!

A few other random things that I have adapted for my classroom would be the IKEA table and magazine holders, seen at the front of my room. I purchased these items for under $20 and I am able to organize music for 6 choirs, right in front of my podium. I have a music librarian in each class (kids apply for classroom jobs, see below), which helps me keep the music organized and looking nice.

I have chosen my classroom jobs, which are positions given by application to hard-working students to reward them for wanting to go the extra mile. My jobs are:

-Music Librarian (sort and file music)

-Equipment Relocation Engineer (helps move chairs, pianos and other equipment, especially for concerts)

-Stage Managers (for concerts)

-Welcome Wagon (helps visitors, subs and new students find their way around the room)

-Absent Student Assistant (picks up work for absent students and takes it to the office)

Kids basically fight over who gets to help me, which is FANTASTIC. I also have a student aide that helps me with various tasks, which is appreciated when I have pep club and choir things to be copied and taken to other teachers. If I could hire a sky writer to say ” XXXX Student is AWESOME”, I would. He is seriously the best.

There’s always something new going on at school that I want to write posts about, but by the time I get home I always forget. I promise to write more!

Keep on keepin’ on, #EdCats!

🙂

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