I had an incredibly, wonderful and musical first rehearsal with my auditioned A Cappella Choir on Monday night. They received their December caroling music last June and were responsible for summer study/preparation and attendance at sectionals hosted by their Section Leaders.
My very special singers sang it beautifully/musically – Start to finish. September 14th.
I am riding the wave of a seven year investment in our GUYS NITE OUT program where I have recruited guys from grades 6-12, Dads, Grads and Granddads. I have an abundance of tenors (I know!!! Right?) I just want to dump my entire choral library in their laps all year long. What a treat!
I am also working hard at teaching them how I like to be treated. This has been something I have cultivated for the last few years. Teaching them how manners (please, thank you, excuse me, may I?) really do make a difference with me. How asking my favorite question (“Retz, is there anything I can do for you today?”) rocks my world.
At our retreat the Friday before school started, they were asked to bring a notebook where they had to write the name of every member of the choir on a separate page. They were given the assignment to speak to one another and document the interesting things they discovered. The person with whom they were speaking would also need to sign off on their page. The notebook came to Monday night’s rehearsal so they could continue the activity. I will collect every notebook and grade them. They are loving this.
I’ve also made a big deal about the concept of checking in with one another every day. The premise; you may have had a conversation with me on Monday where I was fine. Tuesday may have come and I was not fine but you might still think I was fine as a carryover from Monday because you did not check in with me. One of my sophomores has taken this to heart and has not missed a day. This is the way I like to be treated and this is the way I think they should treat one another. Not glued to their cell phones. It’s magic.
I think when you are personally in a good space your students really pick up on that. I am not hip or fashionable. I don’t know what is playing on the radio. I am actually pretty old-fashioned and strict. Often, I think kids just need that. I pull no punches. I am a straight shooter. I am consistent, courteous and kind to every one of them. They know I love and respect them because I’ve told them that – on the first day of school. I call them my “angels” and “beautiful children” and I mean every word. I’ve taught college kids (Rutgers for seven years) and made the choice to step away from that position to just teach my high school kids. They know that. I tell them that. I have stopped assuming they know things so I re-teach things for those who need to fill in the gaps and I’m thrilled with those who have retained information from year to year. It’s all good.
My next entry will be a video clip of my teaching space. I have re-joined the Board of NJ-ACDA and am serving as Recording Secretary and R&S Chairperson of Women’s Choirs and our President, Michael Schmidt, has suggested that we create videos of things to share with our membership. I like the idea so I will take you on a tour of my teaching space and show you how delightful it is to have all of the resources I have as a Choral Music educator of 35 years in the same district! I waited 28 years for the space in which I teach and I respect every inch of it. The kids do too. It is a safe haven and special place for all of us.
I hope each of you is having a wonderful start to your year and that you are also creating a world where you are respected, treasured and valued.
Thank you for reading.