Last week, I described myself as a unicorn. In my teaching assignment, I’m the only one who teaches AP Music Theory (APMuTh). With that said, I strongly prefer to work collaboratively. I think I teach more effectively and am a better artist when I can connect my subject matter to disciplines other than Music. In 2014, the National Standards that guide our instruction moved us from simply creating, performing, and responding to include connecting. The developers of this document recognized that it wasn’t enough for our students to develop, recreate, and reflect on their music making. Now, we challenge them to find connectivity between their work and that of musicians who came before them, as well as greater society. As I view it, our students are now challenged to reach past their personal bubble of music-making. I don’t doubt that this could cause some insecurities…even anxieties. After all, our musicianship (to whichever degree it is expressed) is a personal quality.
Kelly’s (2016) discussion of filters as means of guiding our connectivity moves from the traditional (determined by degrees of gatekeeping, commercial specialists, marketing, civic legislation, cultures, relationships and to an extent, self) to the more personal (strictly individual taste, influence of our friends, items on our “bucket lists”). I rather like the concept of using those three filters as a means of determining what will be included on my “to read/to do” lists but, in reality, I realize that ship has sailed. Once I’ve begun to poke through the internet for new composers or authors to consider for my personal library, Google has collected that information and will begin to seed my online reading with related marketing. YouTube does it. So do J.C. Penney, Royal Caribbean, and Amazon. These days, our keystrokes are far from secure. Still, I appreciate what connectivity has given to me.
Even though I don’t like working in a silo, I recognize that it is part of my reality. I’ve made my peace with that…to an extent. When given the opportunity to break out of my silo, I take it. There are certainly enough resources available to me through research I conduct from the comfort of my study. In fact, that is the way I obtained materials for my university students and those from my earliest years of teaching APMuTh. The missing ingredient was/is the opportunity to network and the richness of intellectual exchanges. While I choose to network whenever possible (preferring face-to-face engagement), I know that I need to be more understanding (read, patient) with those colleagues who don’t share that mindset.
Over the past 11 years, I’ve been able to observe a close friend while he’s worked as a project manager for the tech side of a big pharma. I’ve found it quite interesting to watch as his workplace evolved from his desk at home to a return of an office-based environment, each of which serves a global network. As I read Schwabel’s projection of 10 trends in workplaces, I recognized more than a few in the evolution of my friend’s organization and his specific assignment, as well as agencies with which I regularly engage. (1) 1 face-to face engagement = 34 emails (2) No more remote-working for IBM (3) 2014 study: Gen Z’s and Millenials preference of face-to-face engagement vs. technology; corporate offices vs. telecommuting (4) Artificial Intelligence (AI) viewed as efficient partner for HR… (5)Not to mention, customer service (special shout-out to online library support) (6)Technology’s extension of the regular workday leading to employee burnout (7) HR’s absence from the executive table As I look back at this list, I’m seeing a mix of positives and negatives. I am able to recognize at least 5 in my own school community (impacting my students as well as myself).
This week, my questions are: (1) How can we prepare our up-and-coming educators for the impact technology and its accompanying networking will have on their classroom environments, teaching, and personal life? (2) Is it too soon to prepare our K-12 students for the same? The readiness needs described by Prince for K-12 and post-secondary education pressed my “up button” (thank you, Dr. Goodrich), so here is how I’m viewing them: For pre-service education majors (regardless of discipline): * Nurture the whole student. Help them discover their inner leader while training the future educator within them. * Offer internship/student teaching experiences that are comprehensive in nature. When possible, cross grade levels, seek diverse settings that will demonstrate “plenty” as well as “want”. * Encourage collegiality, especially in disciplines that are breeding grounds for competitive natures. * Tap into alums who can speak to the reality of life after college (even if that includes having to find a “plan B.” * Ensure that faculty will have ample opportunities to get into out into the field. Truly knowing school districts and cooperating teachers will be mutually beneficial for them and their students. For K-12 environments: * PLEASE do not hesitate to include social awareness (including Emotional Intelligence) in our classrooms. * Provide students with collaborative opportunities that will suit their learning modes while challenging them to move outside their individual comfort zones. * Be open to changing the flow within our classrooms to include more than “book learning.” * At first glance, interdisciplinary learning looks labor intensive. Not going to lie…it can be. On the flip side, it is well worth it when a student has connected the dots during a class discussion. * Take the time to find members of the community who have the skills/life experiences to enhance even the simplest unit of instruction (Build a bridge). * Don’t be afraid to find learning experiences off-campus.
While this might seem like quite the shopping list, (IMHO) it aligns with Prince’s 3 Levels of Readiness (self, societal, and emotional). In reviewing this theory, I was struck by the contribution of each constituent’s role towards the success of the others.
Now, about those bees… I’m fascinated by the impact of a single bee versus that of a swarm of bees on the production level of a honeycomb. Since I have friends who are beekeepers, I’ve become familiar with the importance of keeping the hive and its occupants as healthy and functional as possible. I found Schachter’s comparison of the beehive with the workplace to be especially relevant in discussing how the internet and its resultant networking has impacted where (and how) I work. It would be too easy for me be the single bee. After all, I am able to get my work done on my own (albeit slowly and with less yield). I hold firm to the belief that networking with others (including through the internet) enables my colleagues and me to strengthen our efforts while recognizing the value each holds within our community.
If you’re looking for me, don’t bother checking the silo.
References Kelly, K. (2016). The inevitable: understanding the 12 technological forces that will shape our future. NY, NY: Penguin Books.