Reflexive Agility

For those who haven’t heard this yet, 2020 is not a normal year. In every way, shape, and form, it is not normal. But in the educational space, we are bending ourselves over backwards to try and be normal. Unfortunately, the typical catch phrases are being flung from all directions to try and keep everyone in their traditional identities and to minimize (or ignore) the need for reflexive agility.

For too long, educators have been directly or suggestively reminded that the metrics of their success are measured on the amount of themselves they ignore in order to prioritize the students in their class. Analyzing the profound cost benefit of this activity is a prime example of how the abnormality of 2020 was (and may still be) the greatest gift given to education. This unwritten rule must come full stop and we must focus on the needs of our greatest resources in the educational process…. passionate educators. At no point in our teacher training programs were we presented with an instruction manual that outlined our steps to success… Step 1: don’t think about yourself. Step 2: write your standards on the board… Unfortunately, we continue to hear Administrators and parents perpetuate this myth. Rarely has there ever been a more appropriate time for the saying :”you can’t love anything until you love yourself.” Now is the time…

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#MaslowBeforeBloom

One advantage to online teaching is the occasional moment to consider things outside of “school”, and possibly the time to act on them. This could be a small home chore, project, article, news blast, social media check in, moment of silence, or many other things. Today was a chance to dig into Dr. Pearlman’sMaslow Before Bloom“. This fantastic (and easy) read is digestible, thoughtful, reflective, and empowering.

“If a student is hungry, tired, or scared — give them food, a nap, or a hug. This does not require board approval or a bond issue. It seems so simple. It is simple. It is also very effective.” (p 8)

Throughout my career, I have participated in a number of conversations about students that are focused on the WHAT a student is doing and ignores or dismisses the WHY a student is doing it. You can contextualize it in a behavioral setting, academic setting, or…

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The Inspiration We Receive (and maybe provide)

During these unique times, it has frequently been said that the arts will get us through. They will heal us. They will explain to us. They will inspire us. They will reflect us. In alternate conversations, the challenges of our society looked to schools for assistance and sollutions. As an educator, this was both empowering and frustrating… it is not a school’s responsibility to make sure the economy is working, but students can benefit greatly from the routines and social engagement of the school setting.

In my own journey, I felt a sense of duty to provide students a meaningful learning experience while supporting the diverse and complex social/emotional perspectives. This responsibility was heavy, but was driven by purpose. Every student deserves an…

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Confessional

So, I’ve decided that it is time to confess. I have participated in, vehemently supported, and even led the perpetuation of a tradition, without every questioning it. Now, by the very nature of a tradition, newbies are not usually in a position to question. The focus is on conformity. As I grew up within this tradition, I learned the inner workings, the subtle variations, and became skilled at keeping the tradition intact. The past couple of years, the tradition has felt incomplete (for me) and I started looking for alternate opportunities. Now, I feel comfortable enough to offer my formal confession… My name is Nathan Johnston, and I am a band director.

On the surface, being identified as a “band director” seems harmless. And in many ways, I still feel that it is harmless. But, when working with students from a variety of communities, cultures, interests, and abilities, being ONLY a band director can be limiting. Read more of this post

Staying Engaged

Teaching is hard. Teaching music is hard. Teaching in 2013 is hard. Finding time to stay connected to my own music is hard. Finding opportunities to just play and not conduct, not program, not rehearse, not fill out POs, not do transportation requests, not answer emails, not have meetings, not … well, its hard to sit down and just play. BUT, it’s important. Read more of this post

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