Recently, a colleague sent an email to all the elementary music specialists in my district asking for help in determining why she might have had received a low evaluation score on her latest administrative observation. When she questioned her administrator, she was told that her lessons were “not aligned.” Several other music teachers joined the discussion and we all agreed that we shared the same situation.
On the surface, alignment seems to mean that the lesson objectives, goals, and assessment are aligned with the Texas Essential Skills and Knowledge (TEKS) and National Standards in music education. But when I started to “dig” a little more, I realized that it was much more that that. I began to connect the evaluation results with what I had been researching regarding the quality of teaching in the general music education classroom.
The problem for music educators is that the best practices of our field have centered around methodologies that were developed well before the current trends in research in education. I was well versed in these methodologies and depended on the resources and materials that I purchased or were provided by my district for teaching in the elementary music classroom.
But they did not line up with the language and concepts covered in the state's teacher evaluation system. This was quite frustrating since no professional development courses were offered to music educators to remedy this gap in education theory and practices.
Several said that the district should offer training sessions for administration and principals to teach them what a music classroom looks like and what should be expected when they observe.
Most music teachers feel that they are doing a great job with lesson planning and teaching. They see their students engaged and think that they are "getting it."
How do you KNOW FOR SURE your students are learning? Can you prove that you are actually teaching the objectives... in fact, what ARE your objectives for this lesson? Do you use HOTS (Higher Order Thinking Skills) in your lessons? Do you use formative assessment? Or any kind of assessment at all?
Are you overwhelmed yet?
If you are like me, you are. And have been for awhile.
I have searched and searched for resources, books, lesson plans, curriculum that translates all of this (stuff that is on my state's teacher evaluation) into the elementary music classroom.
And there are few.
I am at a school that uses and urges all teachers to use:
- collaborative learning
- formative assessment
- quality questioning
- the New Bloom's Taxonomy
- Critical Thinking
- instructional strategies such as "No Opt Out" and "Think/Pair/Share"
- Think Time
- Deeper Learning
- assessment strategies such as "Exit Tickets" and "Think Ink"
Ever heard of any of those? Do you think they aren't important in the music classroom?
You're gonna hear more about this in the next few years, I can guarantee.
If you want to stay on the cutting edge, follow my blog. I promise to write more often. And I will be focusing on better lesson planning...
Why? Because I am now a doctoral candidate working on my EdD in Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment!