It’s been a while, but here I am: 2 weeks into my first year of teaching elementary general music. Let’s back track a little bit. How did I get here?!
I began student teaching during the spring semester of my senior year. It was a great feeling to be able to put so many of the things I’ve been studying into practice in a classroom/school setting. Spring semester was also a great transition time between college life and “real life.” I learned a great deal about myself, my philosophy of music in education, and what I want my classroom to look like. Socially, it was a good transition as well. Going from being completely immersed in friends and late night socializing to a steady job and household tasks was easier with that last semester of being more structured with student teaching.
Most of my time outside of school hours was spend writing lesson plans and updating my portfolio and resume to begin the job hunting process. Oh boy. *big sigh* This was a very daunting task: so much paperwork, organizing, more paperwork, and waiting. I went to a job fair, and signed up for several interviews there. Looking back, that was the first big step in the process, I guess. One of the school I interviewed with was a school district in the Phoenix, Arizona area looking for music teachers. (My music ed. major friends and I were rejoicing and feeling encouraged that some schools listed that they were interested in music teachers-there’s hope for our future!)
After the job fair, I was in high gear filling out paper and online applications out the wazoo (I should look up where that phrase came from because I don’t even know what a wazoo is. All I know is that in this case wazoo means at least 25 applications). After some time of silence from any school district, I finally started getting emails or calls for interviews from schools! *happy dance* One of the tough questions (not regarding teaching content or philosophy) was “why do you want to teach in this district/this area?” Honestly, I just wanted a job. I was hoping it was somewhere warm, preferably near a beach. “Wherever music takes me.” Seemed like a better response though. As close as I am with my family, it would be hard to move away, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world.
The last week of my student teaching, I was offered a job in Glendale. It was a crazy week full of a lot of praying and seeking counsel about whether or not moving 2400 miles from home for an elementary music teaching job is a good idea fresh out of high school. I decided it was a great opportunity and the school/music program looked good and supported. It was very comforting to have a job offer in the works so I was able to enjoy the last couple of weeks with my friends leading into graduation.
My mind was all over the place for the next month while I was working my usual summer job at the local pharmacy. It was a great month and a half visiting with family and friends preparing to move. The sorting and packing process was less than desirable, but I survived (and so did a full carload worth of clothes, books, and supplies). July quickly came, and so did my departure date. One Saturday morning, my dad and I jumped in my car (literally packed to the roof…or ceiling. can you say cars have a ceiling? Is that the term for the interior of the room in a car as well as a house? No bother).
Then I said goodbye to Pennsylvania and hello to a quick drive across the country to Arizona. It was strange and really exciting to get the keys to my new home. I had a few days to get set up before I started 2 weeks of intensive training and orientation. The orientation was very informative and and helpful. It was comforting to see so many new teachers (I wasn’t the lone newbie in a sea of experienced teachers: what a relief). We got specialized training for our subject area, support from other teachers in the district, and general training for the district’s programs.
Setting up my classroom took some time. Figuring out what bulletin boards or room setup I wanted was a challenge at times. Once I got started, it got easier. Some things I’ve learned so far:
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad teacher.
There are always ways to improve and things to learn.
Every student is capable of success. No exceptions.
Our job as teachers is to find the treasures in each student.
Be confident in yourself.