We hope you found the viewpoints presented last week by our panel educators to be helpful. If you are taking your first look this week, welcome!
In an effort to provide some additional tools to aide in your success, we have posed questions to educators from across the country; each with different experiences, focuses, and student demographics. We will post new questions and responses each week, so continue to check back.
We also hope that you will contribute ideas born of your own experience by commenting and continuing the conversation. If you have a question you would like to submit, please message us with “Music Ed. Question” as the first line in the question.
Please see the attachment to “Meet The Panel”
How do I get administration to be on “my side” and not see my program as extra-curricular? Also, how do I get them to support the music program as they would a math or science class?
Lance LaDuke: Do your homework. What are the hot-button issues in your district? Why do the administrators feel the way they feel? What is happening at the city, county or state level that may be impacting their decisions? In what ways is your program vital to the success of every student? Can you speak to those things? Can you speak the same language as the administrators? You don’t have to agree with them but if they have the power to determine your fate, you need to arm yourself with the information, people skills and undeniable success of your students. If every person in the town (mayor, school board, civic leaders, local press, local celebrities) are aware of the level of expertise, confidence and competence you are instilling in these young folks (because of your efforts to bring this music out to the community), the administration can’t help but be on “your side.” You all want the same thing. Your administration needs to know that you are not only an activity, but they need to witness that your students are the cream of the crop and that you are interested in helping the entire organization succeed.
Dr. Jeff Phillips: This is always an issue in some schools. Most of the time, unless your administrators have a music background, they just won’t “get it.”Having a good system for student evaluation and assessment with a program designed around state and national standards can help them see that you aren’t just playing a bunch of pop music at football games. If you have a solid curriculum with measurable goals like other classes you will have an easier time showing them that you are on the same level as other subjects. On the other side, if you just concentrate an entire semester on 7 minutes of music and marching and your goal is to win a bunch of trophies, why should they consider you anything but “extra-curricular?”
Monica Leversay: A good way to have administration notice your program as equal is a lot of the time, and sometimes unfortunately, based on results. As you have your groups perform, and with quality, invite them to everything; concerts, festivals, community events, etc. Make sure at least one member of administration is seeing the fruits of your labor and make them aware that the students are enjoying and taking knowledge away from your class. Put yourself out in the community. Take a small group and play at a nursing home or in the lobby of a grocery store during the holidays. Rallying the community behind you increases the weight behind what you have to say, what you do, and why you do it. Many members of administration have coaching or athletic backgrounds. They don’t understand music and its meaning/importance, but if you can relate what you do to concepts they understand, sometimes it allows them to internalize points and ideas in different ways. Find ways to relate and bridge gaps between the arts and core subjects. The more you are reinforcing what the kids are learning in their other subjects, the more your students will grow and those around you will see growth in your students. Administration holds this in high regard.
John Bingaman: First off, stress the fact that what you do is co-curricular and not extra-curricular. This is a very important distinction when compared to athletics or clubs. There are many qualities of music that yield a greater understanding in other subjects such as math because of the spatial reasoning principles in reading music. That amongst other skills needed to study and perform music are powerful arguments for considering music an important part of the school curriculum. There is a great deal of fine arts advocating material out there. This material speaks a lot to the effects of music on the individual from a cognitive standpoint and more specifically how music relates to achievement in other subjects. The findings in the many studies linking music to academic success are undeniable. If the administration is convinced that fine arts will yield more success in core classes such as math and science, the “buy-in” will be much greater.
Dr. Russ Gavin: The first step in this is to make sure your program functions similarly to those math or science programs. As music teachers, we often want to see ourselves as exceptions to the typical school environment when discussing things like lesson plans, assessment, mentoring, and purpose. If you want to be supported in a way similar to those other courses, do what you can to resemble them where you can. Regarding getting administrators on your side…be a great classroom manager, be a great colleague, and take advantage of opportunities to support the school as a whole. Show them you are on their side and they are likely to find themselves on yours!
Ryan Moseley: This question is one that is being asked more frequently by Arts Educators across the country. Now that Music has been adopted as a Common-Core Subject by the U.S. Congress, you have a little more weight behind you discussions with your principal. Music is not something that can just be ignored. It has a place in the overall curriculum and many states are even using common-core standardized music tests to evaluate teachers. Consider ways to make your administrator a part of your daily program, not just the after school events. Invite the administration into your classroom to participate in lessons and the music making process. Have administration be a “Director” for the day where they conduct the band. Lastly, find ways to create cross-curricular lessons that include the other subjects in the school. By taking these approaches, you become more of the daily school environment, not just an “extra-curricular” activity.