connecting through music-new ideas

I wrote a post earlier last month on the importance of music in my life right now and how I’ve just  relaized what an amazing effect it can have on me and all the people around me.  It is here if you missed it.

A wonderful friend of mine Liz Ciko teaches music here at my school.  She helped me put a song together to use in a music video with my 8th graders.  Here is what she posted on my blog post from before, “That is exactly WHY I teach music!!! I am happy someone gets how it can affect you in such a positive way. I am glad you do this with the kids…I don’t think anyone else does, and it’s SO SO SO important! Yay Lauren!!!”

I am not sure I really got what she meant until today.  I made two music videos with my 8th graders.  They are linked here in my school blog.  It was such a fun experience. I loved it and they loved it.  The videos are SOOOOOO funny and I cannot wait to make more music videos or just record songs in Spanish with my students.  What a difference it has made for me and the students!  I’ve always been a teacher who sings and dances to get her students going…but now I am using songs that my students like and are totally into… and then using them to teach!

Another wonderful friend of mine, Kelly Goldberg, told me a couple years ago (when I was STRUGGLING in a big way) to understand and connect with my middle school students…”Lauren, what about music?  Isn’t there some cool music in Spanish that might help you connect with these kids?”  At that point I was so far gone trying to understand my teenage students (don’t ever try to understand teenagers, just love them and make them feel understood), I thought, “Why the heck is she telling me to play music with them?  Like that would ever help….”  I was in such a frustrated place, I never though music could make a difference.

Thank you Kelly and Liz for your advice!  I have finally taken it and what a wonderful ride I am on in life right now.  I am singing on the way to school each day, I am singing and dancing to begin all my classes at school and now we are making music videos and hopefully will be recording songs in the future.  Music is such a wonderful way to connect, share, have fun, learn, etc.  Again, so simple!

What I’ve finally realized about myself as a person and as a teacher, is that I ALWAYS need to try new things and keep changing up what I do in my personal life and also change up what I teach and how I do it.  I am happier that way and thus a better teacher that way as well.


you matter

I’ve already blogged about this…but here I go again.  Short and sweet!

Thanks you to Angela Maiers for starting this movement, this revolution, this simple statement that is changing how some people think, do and act.

Oprah Winfrey ended her show after 25 years with this same message.  We all just want to know each day, and we all just want to feel like we matter and be validated (if possible) on a daily basis.

We began our school year with her TED Talk and then I added this idea to my classroom with my 6th-8th graders.  It is simple.  They take an “exit slip” on their way into my classroom (small scratch sheet of paper).  During class they write anything they want about themselves or someone else.  They write something that they noticed about themselves or someone else. They write anything that they noticed that day during class or throughout the day.  They drop the slip into a box on their way out and then we read the slips to begin our class each day.  It take about 2-3 minutes to read and is a great way to start each class period.

As most people know, 6th-8th graders are wonderful little human beings, but with hormones raging and their bodies changing…they can be a bit awkward and don’t really “like” anything ever in my classroom.  They forget their homework, they forget how to speak Spanish, they sometimes forget how to be the sweet, kind wonderful respectful human beings that I know them to be.  BUT the one thing they NEVER forget to do this year, I NEVER REMIND THEM, is to write their exit slip with some bit of information to make some one else feel like they mattered that day.  Its amazing.  They forget many other things, but they never forget to write some kind, thoughtful words on a scratch sheet of paper.