Standard #2: Learning Differences
Regardless of where I teach, I will always have students from diverse cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. As such, it is my duty to understand my community students’ differences and how to best address their needs. By accommodating my students according to their personal needs, I can create a more inclusive program that helps all students meet high standards and become successful.
My EDMU 205 course required a minimum of 20 hours of volunteer experience at a community center in Muncie, IN. My experiences at the Boys and Girls Club of Muncie introduced me to students with very different upbringings and school experiences than my own. Some of the children I interacted with came from single-parents homes or lived with relatives. Others came from families with very little money, which means they may not have access to tutoring services or Internet at home, and as a result may not be able to do homework assigned by their teachers. This made me realize that many of the things I take for granted in my personal life may mean something very different to my students. As a result, I should design activities and choose content that not only meets educational standards, but are also relevant, meaningful, and accessible for my students.
One way a music educator can broaden his students’ exposure to culture is through world music or through non-traditional ensemble experiences. When I attended the Conn-Selmer Institute in the summer of 2013 I had the opportunity to meet Marcia Neel, a veteran teacher with innovative ideas regarding program expansion and curriculum design. Marcia has started or promoted over 100 mariachi programs across the United States, educating over 3,500 students daily in mariachi music. While many teachers tend to gravitate towards spirituals and jazz to help promote cultural diversity in the music classroom, mariachi programs and the like can provide variety and create interest for students who may not be attracted to traditional wind band literature, jazz band, orchestra, or general music. Even creating chamber groups within the concert band or orchestra program to experiment with mariachi music can help expose students to a culture they may otherwise never get to discover.
This principle goes hand in hand with both the previous and the following principles, and is quite possibly one of the most important. A music educator should be aware that all students have separate methods of developing in music. Opportunities should be provided for students to express themselves in multiple, individualized ways. In addition, as an instrumental music education teacher, it is important to be able to adapt to different ways of learning for each of the instruments being taught in the classroom.
I've never been one to accept stereotypes or social norms; instead, I like to question them, think critically, and consider all stances of a particular topic or argument. Furthermore, I believe there is no set way to teach a classroom, or any particular student for that matter. As students grow they develop their own opinions and beliefs, and consequently their hobbies and interests change as well. To keep up with a student's ever-developing mind, an educator must be aware that the same teaching approach will not be 100% successful time after time. Teachers must be aware that students are all different and must adapt to each student as they grow.
As I've mentioned in other principles, Ball State provides many courses geared towards developing various teaching strategies. These courses teach future educators how to maintain diverse learning in the classroom. By taking courses such as EDPSY 250, MUSED 350, and various other classes offered at my University, I hope to gain the knowledge needed to be an effective, diverse teacher.