This post is submitted for the Virtual Conference on Core Values - http://larkolicio.us/blog/?page_id=873
What is at the center of your classroom? What ultimate goal or question motivates your lessons?
Each year is an exciting new adventure! Unlike many of my colleagues who only see students for one year, I have the unique opportunity as a director of bands to have my students return to me each year. My objective, my "center", is to develop an award-winning, academic focused music program on the cutting edge of creativity and band pageantry. You can ask any one of my students and they will tell you, in order, my three focuses: Academics, Discipline, and Musicality! My goal at the high school is to get as many of my students into some form of post-secondary education! Every student that was a regular participating member of my band program, since we have been keeping data, (three years) has been accepted to some form of post-secondary education. I have certain rules and regulations in place which aid and assist in the educational process such as:
· Rehearsals are from 3pm to 6pm daily, from 3pm-4pm is a required study hall where students participate in peer tutoring or are allowed to go to teachers to receive extra help after school.
· Four members of my band staff are school employees and teachers who also provide tutoring after rehearsal when needed.
· Any senior who has not taken or registered for the ACT/SAT is not allowed to perform until proof of registration or test scores are turned in. This ensures that the test requirements that are needed for college acceptance are fulfilled.
· I receive and review a copy of every report card and interim when issued to the students to ensure acceptable grades are being received. Depending on grades, students may be put on a daily progress report that is due to me each day.
· By January, Seniors must provide proof that they have applied to any college or university to ensure that even if their original plan does not work, they have somewhere to go, and I ensure that they are accepted somewhere.
· Every student eventually receives one-on-one counseling with me, or a member of the band staff, to ensure continued academic success. When needed, we ensure students are attending Saturday FCAT Camps, after school tutoring, and if needed time away from after school band to promote academic success.
For three years my students have not only been accepted to some form of post-secondary education, they have also received over $300,000 in both academic and music scholarships. I believe that if every teacher meets the educational needs of all students in a safe learning environment, we will achieve academic success within all elements of instruction. All this at a school that has a minority population of over 90% & a free and reduced lunch rate of over 65%. The U.S. Secretary of Education said it best: "The heart of the classroom is found in the unique relationships between students and teachers. In the same way that a family turns a house into a home, a physical and emotional transformation takes place when teachers and students work together in community to reach common goals. We see it in the trust, the expectations, the experiences and the knowledge of every person in the class."