A Short Post on Frustration with Children

I just finished a long day and my teaching today made me think about ... frustration. And balancing out the positive and negative so that we always keep things in perspective. Sometimes it is so easy for us adults to get frustrated with kids. It happens all the time in the process of learning in stages of life-as a parent, teacher, or as a child. How often do we have frustrations outside our family only to come back home and to be faced with chores, more work or more frustrations. Often allowing children to grow means that we need to be strong. Some days we all feel that we are the child who needs support and understanding.

Now think, how easy really it is for us to over react when talking to children?

When you are frustrated, how do you behave at home? Do you take that frustration with you, do you talk about it, do you expect others around you to act differently?

Also, is there really a right answer? Probably not as we are all in the process of learning. It just the awareness of our tendencies that will help us re-direct our thoughts. 

Next time, when I get frustrated, I will appreciate somebody around me for something they do well. I will let positive emotions balance out the frustration. 

How about YOU?

Projecting a feeling of confidence and fun a recruiting session or presentation is THE secret to getting students interested in your program.

How do you do that?

Here are the steps you must take:


Treat the recruiting presentation as a concert performance! Think about the importance of recruiting for your program and don't underestimate this event. Really rehearse it with the students! Let me say it again...rehearse with your students! This will affect the energy level of your own studets presenting. The difference between shy students and confident students can be the difference from recruiting small numbers to having a large program. Children are incredibly intuitive. They feel the energy and enthusiasm in adults and older students much more than they internalize what the adult is saying. They will go by that feeling and most will make a decision based on it.

How many of us have asked students to speak in front of a crowd. They are enthusiastic to do it, but when they actually get the microphone get very shy about it. It happens to everyone. Now imagine having a students play a concert without practicing and rehearsing...this would be a laughter moment for any music teacher. So why do we put so much into the music preparation but then expect our students to simply "be good at" everything else? The way we rehearse every aspect of a music performance, we must also rehearse every aspect of a recruiting presentation.

Feeling of personal touch!

Have students smile and if possible get closer to the students. Making the incoming students comfortable with you as a teacher as well as the students in your program can do wonders in recruiting. Again if a students talks about your music program, rehearse it. Make sure that they are able to convey their message with fun and enthusiasm as opposed to being shy and nervous on stage.

Many students feel aprehensive about going to a new school. This is very natural. Providing a sence of security and feeling that the students will be supported in your program can be a good way to make others pay attention to your music class. This is what distinguishes a music program from the core classes. It is important that this is expressed in a recruiting presentation.

You can enhance that idea by having your students talk about the program with a message that focuses on the support and team work students experience in your music class.

Getting ideas directly from the students!

Often the students will give you the best recruiting ideas based on your school and dynamics within the school community. They know the younger kids, know they act and what they would like. Your own students can give you the best advice about scheduling a recruiting presentation. Simply asking them "What do you think we can do to grab the younger students' attention" could start a discussion and a plethora of ideas. Come up with ideas as a class, talk to them and listen to their opinions. If your own students are excited about the presentation, this will excite the incoming students as well. If your own students do not feel strongly about the message they are conveying, it will be very difficult to convey that message to the younger students as well!

Use key words

When preparing for your introduction and what to say to the students in a recruiting presentation, try to use Use key phrases that younger students like and will be drawn to. These are:

Making Friends 

Other Posts on Recruiting for Orchestra and Band You Might Enjoy:
Recruiting for Band and Orchestra
Four Tips for Recruiting Even More Students

Are you having trouble with your recruiting or do you need somebody to "run your script by"? This is why this blog was created. Do not hesitate to drop me a note. http://www.musicteachingandparenting.com/2014/03/four-tricks-to-recruit-even-more.html

Not sure about what to do or have a question? Feel free to leave me a comment or contact me directly!
Recruiting for your band or orchestra program is one of the most important parts of being a music director. We all  try to look for different ways to engage students and to have them interested in our programs.

 I have been very active in recruiting for my orchestra program for about eight years now. When I started at my current school, my program was quite small. I really needed to come up with creative ways to recruit and bring the numbers up. Every year, I have talked to my older students about recruiting and I have tried to analyze what makes students chose one thing over the other. Here are some of my findings about the mistakes we don't want to make.

What Not To Do
All band and orchestra teachers have similar ways of recruiting- we go to the feeder schools with our students to perform for them. We talk or send flyers to potential students and parents. We talk about the instruments and about our program to the interested students. HOWEVER, there are some things you can do in these recruiting sessions that can get you closer or further from the goal of recruiting many students in your program. These are some things you don't want to do in your recruiting sessions:

Say all the right things with the wrong tone of voice!
Students are very intuitive. They always "feel" the energy of the teacher. They can tell if that teacher is excited about what they are doing. If you want them to be excited about your program, then you have to speak in an exciting voice. Move around the room, make eye contact, share your excitement about teaching music. Let students know that you are fun and supportive teacher.

Not engaging the students already in the program in recruiting!
The students who are already in your program will do the best recruiting for you. Besides having a presentation with the kids, see if you can create a situations where they can mingle around the potential students and talk to them about your band and orchestra program. It is always great if you can have the potential students try out and touch the different instrument. This will be more effective if your own students show them the instruments. You can also have your students talk in front of the potential students and tell them about the great experience they have in your band and orchestra program.
o add to that idea I do a few other small things. When I have flyers, I like having my students distribute them. If we are waiting for the younger students to come to the gym for an assembly, then I have a couple of my students greet them at the door. As one student is doing demonstration on an instrument, I like having another student walk around to show this same instrument to the students.

Not having students move and smile!
This applies when recruiting younger students for your band or orchestra programs. Again, young kids "feel" the energy of the teacher and the energy of a group of kids performing for them. When I do presentations in the elementary schools, I have my own students be more "theatrical". They do silly things moving the scrolls in their violins, they produce funny sounds on their instruments, sometimes they say things like "Join orchestra" in the middle of the piece. Often I have them play a piece and get the audience to clap  while  we are playing. I make sure I pick pieces where my students can be free to move, do different things, and show that they are having fun when playing.

Talk to students as if you talk to adults!
This is a big one when recruiting successfully for your band or orchestra program!!! I have seen this many times with teachers recruit and I have observed the energy level of the students drop. There are different things you would say to students and parents to encourage them to join your program. When you talk to parents, do tell them about the wonderful opportunities, about the practice and discipline through music, about research showing that music helps children in all areas in life. HOWEVER, leave this out when you talk to kids about it! They need to hear that they will have fun, that their teacher will care about them, that they will meet friends in your band or orchestra program, that they would go to festivals and trips, that they will play exciting music relevant to them (movies, etc)

When recruiting, no negative messages!
Leave the discipline talk out! Yes it is important, but they would learn the classroom when they get to your class, not when they are considering it.

Most of all...have fun when recruiting! Students pick up on that!!!!

Do you have many students in your program? Share your experiences in the comments!

Ask the Students!
The best feedback you will get will come from your own students!

I am fortunate to have developed a classroom community where students feel safe to share and have an open discussion about their own learning. As a part of sharing their experiences in orchestra, my students are expected to write reports twice a month. These are free style letters where they address the letter to a friend or to myself and they tell a story about their work in the class. In these written assignments they share their honest opinions about their environment, the way they learn better, what motivates them and what they struggle with. 

In this post I will share some of this writings. This will be a series of three posts sharing more of students free-style writing in orchestra and discussing the insight provided by them. I am going to try to take readers through the process I am going through in order to develop my program. 

Assignment: Students were asked to write about their experiences in orchestra; what they like and what would make them stay or leave their elective music program. 

"The main reason I stay in orchestra is because it is really fun. You get to learn more new things. I like the class a lot because I like the violin and learn new things."

"...a reason to stay for me is because I always wanted to play the violin and have a good supportive teacher. A reason to leave-sometimes we focus on more than one song. For me this is stressful because I like to focus on one song at a time. "

As you can see both letters are quite positive. However, the second one provides information that should not be overlooked. This students shares that she might be overwhelmed with the amount of pieces. She is actually correct- at the time of this writing we had been preparing for a music festival. The festival required that we learn specific pieces. However, this is a great opportunity for the TEACHER to learn. Am I giving them too much at once? Are more children overwhelmed at the amour of work or is it that his particular student needs to get more support, perhaps help from more experienced students in order to stay motivated and handle her music? Great questions to improve my classroom! 

Wait for a link to future post with student writing here!
The Unexpected Negative Sides of Being a Teacher

The Only Time I Really Want to Shoot Somebody Being a Teacher...

...is when I get compared to the main character of the Breaking Bad series! You see, I live in Albuquerque! Breaking Bad was a great show. It used to be a big deal here. I was at first unsure about  checking it out, but I enjoyed following it.

The Albuquerque Public School district is also quite large making many education jobs available to the community. There are also lots of engineers in Albuquerque as the city provides opportunities for them to find work. Being married to one I naturally hand around them. Sometimes. And the Breaking Bad character is an engineer who turns into a teacher who then start doing other not so good things pressed by financial needs.

Well, the resemblance between this character and myself is slim!

I love my work with all challenges it presents. I have a strong community of music teachers around me who share the same ideas and are available for support. This makes me very grateful and not alone in my endeavor. I too, as most other teachers, would like to be compensated higher for what I do. And maybe because I am not a chemistry teacher, maybe because I don't have the skills for, but doing illegal things in order to supplement my income has never been on my agenda.

On the other hand I have been in conversations too many times where the conversations goes

X: Have you seen the Breaking Bad Series

Y: What is it about

X: Well, a successful engineer who is laid off and becomes a high school teacher. He cannot pay his bills, develops cancer and his life becomes pretty difficult. In order to come on top of his financial difficulties he goes above the law with one of his former students.

And then the funny look....toward me........
What? Wait a minute...I say...
hmmm....pardon me....but your stereotyping is off by a bit! My feelings exactly expressed in the picture below:
Call it laughable, but  do have real problems at my work place! There is administration, parent concerns, testing, etc. In my mind these are the real problems. Please let me focus on them!

But There Are Good News!
Now we have Better Call Saul Series! 
It is good! 
Watch it! 
And please don't bug me anymore! 

Welcome to the 55th Kid Lit Blog Hop where we continue to develop a dynamic and engaged community of children's books bloggers, authors, publishers, and publicists. So, you are always more than welcome to join us by popping in a post and hopping around to meet some of your fellow Kid Lit bloggers and authors! This week, we are excited to be including a Goodreads Linky Party to be held in conjunction with the Kid Lit Blog Hop. These linky parties are designed to give you the opportunity to connect with and grow your network of fellow kid lit bloggers, authors, and parents through your various social media platforms. We are pleased to be welcome two co-hosts this week. First up, is author Evelyne Holingue. You can visit her at http://evelyneholingue.com/. And, joining us once again is Tiffiny from the blog Spark and Pook. Welcome and bienvenue to both Evelyne and Tiffiny.  


Mother Daughter Book Reviews

Julie Grasso, Author/ Blogger

Cheryl Carpinello, Author / Blogger

Stacking Books


Pragmatic Mom

Music, Teaching and Parenting

Reading Authors

The Logonauts

A Book Long Enough


Happy Hopping everyone and enjoy the Hop!

Kid Lit Blog Hop

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So... you are a student and you got in trouble at school 
 you suspect your teacher will call home?

If you are a student keep reading below

If you are a parent please go directly to THIS POST

Here are some last minute tips:

1. Usually teachers call home when they are very upset and they have already talked to you about the issue before. The easies way to stop a teacher from calling home is to change her plan and talk to her personally before she/he has called. It will be smart if YOU talk to the teacher first.  NO ARGUMENTS will work with these situations. Be very polite and apologetic. Be willing to listen to no matter what your teacher will say. You know well what the problem is. Let that teacher will let off steam (instead of doing it with your parent) Show her that you are responsible for your behavior and ask what you need to do. Apologize.

2. If the phone call home has already happened, don't argue with your parents at home. Simply explain the situation. Try to take responsibility for your own actions and let them know if there is anything you are worried that has nothing to do with you.

3. Most important-take that as a warning sign. Think what you need to do so that that same situation does not happen again.
The Good Side of Being Incredibly Busy Teaching

You might think...is there one? What is she talking about? What is this post about? There are so many posts and articles out there about the incredible pressure on teachers. All of them are true! Our profession is not getting easier and the demands of testing and paperwork continue to prevent teachers from their true passion- the work with kids!

Yet, let's turn our attention to the good sides of being busy as a teacher as well.  We as teachers cannot afford to bring more negativity in our lives- there is already plenty of stressful situations. However,  looking at things from a different perspective can change a teacher's view about their daily demands. 

Here are my thoughts.    Not tips....just thoughts

1. Teaching has many challenges. It also touches your life in a way that no other profession would. I just finished a class where one girl told me "This is my second home". Teaching many students also gives you the opportunity to touch many lives. This is why it is is important for me to make an effort to be at work every day.

2. I am so busy that I do not have time to think about the future, I do not have time to think about the past. I live in the now! I have to be present at every minute! I face all challenges as they come. If I stop to think about the stress, then I know that I have already lost the game. All my days are filled with excitement. I dance with the challenges at my work as they come.  I think this ability to go through periods of stress and take things as you go makes you finish as a winner!

3. Being so busy has made me enjoy my friends and having free time much more. I am at the end of very stressful series of music events at the moment. I am finally ready to enjoy my weekends and people around me which was not possible in the past month. I am truly cherishing the time I can take for myself and the people I share it with! The balance between being busy and having time for myself has made me appreciate both much more!

What about you?