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It begins.

Finding the edges of my day…oh, there they are!

“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.” ~ Alexander Graham Bell

Are you the kind of person who struggles to find time for themselves? Do you feel as if you have a message to convey, yet can’t find the time to express it? I’m fairly certain that you’re not alone in this feeling. I can tell you that I’m right there with you. The late Toni Morrison once shared, “Write at the edges of the day.” I’m going to take Ms. Morrison’s advice to heart and use the edges of my day to speak through this blog. Listen closely and you’ll typically hear me speaking while the early morning coffee is brewing or in the late night hours when the only other creature stirring in the house is my cat, Finn. I hope you and I will mutually benefit from this humble sharing of thoughts, questions, concerns, and humor. Until next time, I hope you’ll succeed in finding the edges of your day, as well!

Absent, but not really missing…

I’m actually embarrassed to say how long it has been since I last posted anything here. Time has passed and “things” have happened in my life and in the lives of those around me. I allowed those “things” to block off a bridge that I enjoyed building between myself and anyone interested enough in reading my musings. It feels great to say that as of today, the blocks are being removed.

We’re at the start of another significant snowstorm here in New England. This is nothing like what the people of Texas are experiencing, so I’m a grateful human. Since our school is in the middle of its winter break, my students and I would say this is “a waste of a perfectly good snow day.” Even as I type that, I’m thinking about the crises taking place in the Lone Star State and just shaking my head in dismay. Thoughts and prayers hardly seem like enough for anyone in the middle of that mess.

I’m in the thick of writing what I hope is the wrap-up of my dissertation. My writing space is simple. It is the place where I’m the most productive and can find the peace I need to make progress. Cup of coffee…check. Border Collie…check. Binders stuffed with relevant literature…check. Music…double check! My secret to staying in the zone: www.classicfm I admit this is my guilty pleasure and it never fails to feed my musician’s soul. Elgar, Whitacre, Lauridsen, Vaughan Williams, Bernstein…yes, just to name a few.

As I read through transcripts of the interviews I collected for my research, I feel nothing but humble gratitude for the chance to speak with some great examples of my profession. And with that, break time is over for this morning. Stay well and safe, everyone.

We ache. We weep.

My goal for this week was to share follow-up thoughts on Fall ’20 goals for teaching in the face of COVID-19. Of course, I still believe this is a worthwhile topic. In the face of what our nation has been facing since the senseless death of George Floyd, I’m having a hard time thinking about anything other than the other virus impacting our lives.

Here is my FB post from 30 May 2020:

“Too many images of anguish and very little sleep tonight. I speak from the perspective of a white woman…I get that. My classrooms and ensembles have and still include a cherished rainbow of students, all of whom I still call “my kids,” and I worship next to brothers and sisters of color. I grieve the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd as I did those who fell before them. I don’t know what it’s like to have “the talk” with my sons because they haven’t needed it but I have had it with those of my students who needed it by virtue of the color of their skin and their gender.

I’ve seen posts from some of my friends and students of color reminding us that tonight isn’t the night to mess with them. I get what they’re saying. I’m just tired of shaking my head in sorrow…in confusion…in frustration and in anger. Judging by what’s running on tonight’s news, we’re running out of time to fix the cycle of wrongs. If we are moving about our lives with the perspectives of white men or women, can we afford to ignore what’s in front of our eyes much longer? To my friends and students of color, I see you, I hear you, and I stand with you.”

And from 31 May 2020

“We’ve had a number of peaceful protest actions here in CT. Today, parts of I-84 and I-95 are already being impacted and there is info about further actions planned for tonight. If you’re participating, be careful (duh, I know) and be judicious in choosing who you follow. Carry your identification in a safe place. Stay with groups that you know. Antagonists are out and about.”

While we certainly hope everyone stays safe as they give their own witness, please don’t refer to peaceful action as riots.

Fr. Jim Martin, SJ continues to be an honest voice for so many of us who identify as Roman Catholic. Regardless of whether you are RC, identify with any other faith tradition or not, or are a seeker, I hope you’ll take time to listen to Fr. Jim’s message in response to the blight that is undermining the spirit of our nation.

Blogging continues to be a great outlet for me and the thoughts that rattle around in my head. I look forward to any responses/dialogue you can contribute to this discussion.

In the meantime, I hope we continue to ache…to weep…and to feel the greatest of discomfort during these times.

Not looking back & trying not to look too far ahead.

When in doubt, I usually consider the route our to my “happy place”…

Nearly done…

The Class of 2020 virtually graduated this past Friday evening. I’ve never been a delight at commencement ceremonies (have tissues, will travel). Our underclassmen/women started their final exams today. In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on our little corner of the world, my mind is focused on wrapping up their grades while finishing my own dissertation. The pandemic and its impact on higher education institutions has impacted my work in that so many conductors were doing their best to figure out how the heck they were going to keep their ensembles in performance mode. As most of them have wrapped up their spring semester, they’re now looking ahead to what Fall 2020 is going to look like. To be honest with you, we are all doing the same.

Keeping an eye on the “What” vs. the “How.” This week…the “What.”

Sitting in my “teacher seat,” I can’t help but worry about how we will be able to honor the art form framed by ensemble performance. Fortunately, professional organizations such as the National Association for Music Educators (NAfME), the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), the College Band Directors Association (CBDNA), and the College Orchestra Association (CODA) have been proactive in their efforts to investigate best practice for students and teachers. We can only hope that our State Departments of Education, along with the U.S. Department of Education will recognize the necessity for including us in the dialogue. We represent such a diverse constituency: local school systems, private vs. public, operating budgets…you name it, we have are “it,” and will not do well with cookie cutter strategies.

Most would say the “What” is easy to identify. Teacher.org lists what we do as being:

“…responsible for sharing music and musical knowledge with his or her students. In lower grades, this may simply mean singing on key, keeping tempo, and learning new songs, but older grades may mean teaching range, how to play an instrument, or helping prepare for college level musical pieces. A music teacher will also be responsible for the same duties as regular education teachers. These teachers will be expected to keep grades, meet with parents, share progress notes, and perform lunch, bus, and/or hallway monitoring.”

I actually found this page to be quite interesting and somewhat amusing, especially in the brief description of what music teachers in higher grades do.

Next week…

The “Hows.”

In the meantime…

Stay well and safe

#MusicEducation #COVID19 #MusicEnsembles

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I’ll share my heart if you share yours…

“Meet them where they are.” I can hear those words being shared by so many of my Music Ed profs over the years. These days, that means finding a way to keep my Choir kids as musically-engaged as possible despite the miles that are separating us. This isolation flies in the face of what ensemble work entails. The very word, “ensemble” = together. To quote Chandler Bing, “Could we BE any less together than we are right now?”

We’ve worked on videos, reflected on our repertoire, and critiqued performances. A few weeks back, we started compiling a portfolio in the form of playlists. The task: Choose 3 songs, each one to represent a specific theme as it relates to your past, present, and future. I expected some questions… How does this work? Will you let me use this one? Google Classroom isn’t working! etc. Never ones to disappoint, most of my kids rose to the occasion and gave me some really great responses. Reading them has consumed my time and my spirit, especially as they have shared parts of themselves and their histories that I wouldn’t have known had we been continuing our regular rehearsals. We broke new ground.

In addition to last week’s assignment, I asked them to come up with ideas for future themes. Some of what they’ve returned: friendships, nature, joy (the emotion, not the dog), love, happiness, jazz, motivation, dreams, faith, nostalgia, friendship, success, sorry, summer, justice, on a rainy day, future, empowerment, never giving up, self-love, adventures, energy, acceptance… I have nearly 80 students, so I’ll limit the sample to these. I can’t choose just one but I can invite them to choose for themselves. These days, I want them to find and keep the music within themselves. I do believe this is in line with the most recent message from a Music Ed prof: the reminder that we “teach people, not music.”

We all have stories to tell. Time for another cup of coffee. Stay well and safe, everyone.

Seriously…

I’m terribly sorry if you’re in need of a haircut, touchup, manicure, massage, or a new tattoo. Get over yourselves. I’m not even prefacing that with a “please.” Just, get over yourselves.

Did you hear about the 5-year-old who was taken by COVID-19? I doubt that you heard about a recent alum…19 years old…who is battling it right now. I’m sure you haven’t heard about the otherwise-healthy young men in their mid-30s who are doing the same. Same for the senior citizens whose only “crime” was residing in nursing homes. They are the ones who are so fragile that the precious ventilators our governors have been fighting for will only hasten their passing.

We all want our “normal” back…even my seniors who kept saying they couldn’t wait to be done with school. We want to be able to do our grocery shopping without being told of the direction we should be walking. We’re tired of seeing masked faces and wondering if we know who we’re passing in our travels. We want to physically be in our houses of worship with our communities. We don’t want to stay up at night worrying about those loved ones who are first responders and at the front line of this nightmare. We want to hear facts, not guesses or hunches.

So, yes…I’m terribly sorry if you’re being inconvenienced. Again, get over yourselves. We’re all just one phone call away from hitting our knees in anguish, people.
#Stayhome #COVID19

Because the hits really should keep coming…

the musical ones, that is,

How could I forget…

I’ve been putting together a virtual playlist since starting the COVID-19 quarantine journey. It is eclectic, if nothing else, and represents music that I’ve either conducted, performed, or just touches my soul. So, here you go with my effort to catch you up on this playlist. Check it out when you can. I’d love to hear your reactions!


That brings us to today, 16 April. I promise to post these weekly. In the meantime, I hope you’ll take some time to check out even just a few of these musical experiences.

Have a great day and, as always, stay well and safe.

#FillMyEarsFeedMySoul

Just Keep Spinning Those Plates

We’re all in this together!

The musical theatre director in me can’t hear the above missive without thinking about the infamous “High School Musical.” Sadly, these words now hold a totally different emotion especially as we are on day 2 of yet another week of socially-distanced teaching.

So, here is my question for this week: What’s the best way for me to tailor the content I’m supposed to be teaching (specifically, choral music) to my students without completely diluting the message?

Don’t pay attention to the zeitgeist in the corner.

Virtual Choir? Sure…let’s try that. Opportunities for reflection? Yes, please…I’d like to use that one, too. Which one is best? Is there actually one that is best?

Flashback to the sage words of one of my first conducting professors: Teach the ensemble in front of you. They live in the moment. With your help, they have been developing their own culture and community. Don’t try to make them into someone else’s ensemble. Teach them and love them where they are.

They’re coming late (and are probably being dragged) to the online-learning party.

I’ve been living he life of an online learner for the past four years. As a result, I’m using a lens colored with practical experiences to view our transition to socially-distant education. My students are typical adolescents. A number of them are dealing with the grief that comes with losing rites of passage they’ll never regain: spring musical, spring concert, prom(s), baccalaureate Mass, commencement, parties…so much. Regardless of their year in school, I continue to seek insight into what they’re experiencing and what will best get them through this mess that is already defining us.

Minnesota State U published a piece that I’ve been trying to keep at the forefront of my efforts as an ensemble director. I believe it could be applicable to teachers of any discipline. In a nutshell, here are the 7 points that I’m trying to get my students to embrace:

  1. Be persistent: Don’t give up when things get tough just because your teacher might be in another zip code.
  2. Manage your time (intentionally): You will not be graded on your video game prowess.
  3. Communicate well (it is a 2-way street): Stay on top of messages from your teachers. Have a question? Reach out to them!
  4. Develop your tech chops: Come on, people! Can we say, “TikTok” and “Instagram?” You’ve got this!
  5. Read well…write better: Grammar and spelling count.
  6. Keep your eyes on the prize…a strong and honest finish: These are terrible times. They just are. We all need the support of our school community (formally and informally) in order to get through this. If you feel yourself getting into an emotional slump, reach out to people who will help reset your perspective on schoolwork.
  7. Take time to develop a good learning environment: Kitchen tables don’t always work…neither does hanging out in your room with the door closed. Find the best place to get your work done!

Will all of this help my students and me get through this unscathed? I surely hope it will. We’re just doing our best to keep on keeping on. I really hope they’re journaling because they’re going to have a lot of interesting life experiences to share with the young’ns who will follow in their footsteps.

Until next week, I hope you and yours are all doing well and staying healthy.

Where, oh where have my students been?

After taking a 3-month break from blogging, it feels good to be back. Besides the opportunity to share thoughts and pose questions to whomever is reading this, I’m selfishly using it as an opportunity to communicate. Please know that I continue to enjoy rich communication with my husband (walking saint that he is), but since 13 March, my life has drastically changed. What a difference the past few weeks have made.

We knew it was coming…

Bright and colorful e learning sketch drawn on a whiteboard in an empty classroom with three ceiling lamps above it. Toned image

Our school community remained acutely aware of COVID-19 and how it could/would impact us as a community of teachers and learners. Fortunately for us, our administration was very proactive in preparing any of us who were not used to working in an online setting. Of course, depending upon our course load this could either be a no-brainer or really tax our creative juices. It hasn’t mattered what our classrooms or teaching environments looked like in our building. As of 13 March we all stepped through the looking glass. We weren’t alone. Our students…this group of energetic adolescent humans who had grown up learning tech-speak as another mother tongue were being thrown into the deep end of the educational pool.

I did my best to practice due diligence while preparing my students for what the new “normal” for Choir would look/sound like. Suffice it to say that none of us were happy with what was on the horizon. For 2 weeks leading up to our last day together, I took about 5 minutes to compare and contrast what we were doing with what I would call upon them to do in the event of a school closure. Each day, we would come together and I’d get the same comments…”Well, we’re back. This is dumb…it is a stupid hoax. Nothing will close school.” Despite their attempts at bravado, my students’ eyes and faces carried a different message. They knew it was coming. We all knew it was coming, We just didn’t “see” it coming.

It just so happens that our select choir came together for a pick-up rehearsal on 12 March. We were all still working towards the Spring concert scheduled for May. I doggedly refused to let go of hope that we would come through this one the other side in time to perform what we had been working so hard to perform. Our select group is an eclectic gathering of students from the high school and one 8th grader. If you were to cut a cross-section of our school enrollment, these are the students you’d find within it. Athletes…kids at the top of their classes…others whose learning styles are “different”…several international students…the wealthy and the not-so-wealthy. There is a big part of my soul that looks at them and listens to their voices blend and just breathes it all in. This is what our world should resemble. This is the coming together to join energies, talents, spirits, and wills that I dream of. In honesty, this is why I do what I do.

We wrapped up one more run-through of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” with laughter and mutual affirmation. As I packed up my teaching area (God forbid it should be left messy for the next person to use it…what a joke), two of my seniors held back to talk. The senior girl asked me if I thought we’d be closed soon. There really wasn’t any way I could be less than honest with her. I told her that I wasn’t sure when it would happen but it wouldn’t surprise me if we got the word that it was happening. The senior boy asked if I had ever seen anything like this. Again…the call to honesty. “No. Not in 30 years of teaching.” We said “Goodbye. See you Monday.” Hugs were exchanged. We had no school the next day for a scheduled day off.

We didn’t necessarily “see” it coming…

That was the last time I was in the physical presence of my students. On Friday, 13 March we received the robocall…CLOSED as of Monday, 16 March.

I began delivering and receiving class content via Google Classroom. I’d like to say that it has been a breeze but I’d be lying. The technological aspects of it are easy enough to navigate but, in the case of my Choir, it is the absence of physical interactions between teacher and students that is hitting us the hardest. Some of my students have just dug in their heels quite firmly to the point that I feel compelled to just drag them over the finish line. Other students have embraced the challenge of making music with me via video. After all, they use Tik Tok pretty well, don’t they?

Here’s what’s been missing…

and, this…

and, this.

We are unable to use our Emotional Intelligences in response to what we see/don’t see/hear/don’t hear from one another. To a musician…especially a choral musician…that is a huge deal. Regardless of who we are or where we are in relation to the podium, this is a crucial element that we can’t get back. We have the gift of great technology. Sadly, it isn’t filling in all the gaps.

What will COVID-19 leave in its wake?

I wish I knew. The 24-hour news cycle is doing a number on all of us. The cheeky high school students who didn’t get why they needed to practice “social distancing” especially since they were young and not at risk receive their wake-up call with each piece of breaking news. While the depth of my seniors’ emotions in response to losing out on the spring musical, prom, spring concert, Baccalaureate Mass, and commencement are still there, they are waking up to hear frightening statistics that are getting closer to home by the hour. More than a few of my students have parents or relative who work on the front line in our local hospitals.

We’re all doing our best to get through this. Hopefully, we won’t lose any members of our community. We don’t know what will happen to the rites of passage our seniors have waited for. We don’t know when we will see one another again.

It is almost time for my Monday afternoon APMuTh Zoom Room to open. My students and I will greet one another and ask how each of us is doing as we start another week of the new “normal.” Until next week, I hope you will stay well and safe and make good decisions. After all, we are all #alonetogether.

Stay well and safe…

Nan

And just like that…Heart Month 2020 is in the books.

After an “eventful” first few months of 2020, it feels great to return to this blog. Thank you for indulging me as I share about something other than music education that remains close to my heart (pardon the pun).

This year, we have 1 extra day to “celebrate” Heart Month. I remain in awe at the progress that has been made since 1986. Back then, families of Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome babies faced such grim realities. I know this because Brendan shared a step-down room with a newborn HLHS girl. We watched her family struggle to find normalcy while grasping at the few days she had left on this earth. Fast forward 34 years and we’re hearing about an ever-increasing number of HLHS babies growing into adulthood and living wonderful lives. These little ones are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to CHD survival.

My husband and I know we represent every family’s worst nightmare. You might even be one of those people who feel uncomfortable just hearing Brendan’s name or seeing his photo because “there but for the grace of God” go you and yours. Trust me. We get it. We used to be right there with you. We still deeply grieve Brendan’s loss but we don’t back away from saying his name and sharing the 9 ½ months of memories that we hold. Bren will always be our middle son, and a beloved brother, grandson, and nephew. He will always be the uncle we wish Emilia and Ella had the chance to know and love. Like every other CHD family, our purpose for observing Heart Month is to raise awareness of CHDs while honoring the memories of those who were lost to them.

If you know of a family facing a CHD future, please don’t hesitate to message me. I’m more than happy to share any info/resources, and to always be a listening ear.
with much love and peace…
Jeff, Bren, and Daniel’s Mom

#1in100 #NeverEnoughPhotos #Tenderheart

Note to Teachers: Your Students Can (and Should) be Taught to Find the Leader Within (thank you).

We aren’t a large faculty and staff, but there are just some people with whom my regular paths don’t cross. Last week, I had opportunities to just sit and chat with two of those colleagues. I felt as if Christmas had arrived early. Our conversations were rich and the take-aways were many. The one that was consistent in both conversations concerned leadership as it is perceived and practiced by our students. In general, our students are great human beings. They are surrounded by a nurturing school community that encourages them to be kind to others (and themselves…often, a forgotten skill), challenge their thinking, and strive to become agents of change in our world. I regularly see signs that they are succeeding in those areas. What I am not seeing is an understanding of the complete function of leadership. My colleagues agreed that this was the case with their students, as well. Our students are not unique in this area. I know this because I’ve observed it in other high schools and on university campuses, too.

What we are observing: Students embracing the mindset that to lead is an absolute that equals being in charge. I’ve learned that starting a dialogue about such models of leadership is best approached gently (and patiently), especially since this traditional view of leadership is what we’ve been taught to accept. I work with students who are typically involved in a variety of activities and organizations on campus (a good thing, since I want them to be well-rounded humans). It is common to see the same faces overseeing elements of campus life that could/should be engaging more students. Unfortunately, this kind of leadership brings with it the need to keep reinventing the wheel. Plainly put, younger students are not being brought up through the ranks. They aren’t given the opportunity to experience the organization from the inside – out. They are spectators. Perhaps the worst aspect of this is the collateral damage brought upon those students who haven’t reached the pinnacle known as leadership. Sadly, I have observed students watching the action from below and hearing them express the fact that they can’t contribute thoughts, ideas, debate, or action because “it just isn’t their turn.” I view this mindset as responsible for stunting the overall development of the community. It cheats us out of what can be offered by any and all of our members. Also, from a purely practical perspective, it gets really old having to teach a new crop of students how to do the same activities each year, especially since they’ve watched them take place (from the outside).

Over the past 8 weeks, I’ve had the chance to read and discuss Kevin Kelly’s (2016) book, The Inevitable. I thoroughly enjoyed Kelly’s voice as a writer. Even as he provided us with his predictions for technology’s impact on our world, he expressed himself with the tone of a poet . I suppose it was his writer’s voice that helped ease the specter of technology on our doorsteps for me. I went back to the author’s own introduction to help me work through the titles he chose for the chapters, and the potential it represented to me (yes, I still have issues with the robot cruising the local supermarket’s aisles). Kelly (2016, p. 3) clarifies that he was speaking about the “momentum” that continues to move through our lives. He even goes so far as to describe it as a “wave.” As someone whose place of peace is on the outermost beaches of Cape Cod, this concept described the force technology imparts and the degree of change it leaves for us to appreciate.

Race Point Beach…aka ‘the Wildest Sister.” This is where the calmer waters of Cape Cod Bay meet the rage of the Atlantic Ocean On this Beach, nothing is ever the same once the waves are done with the shoreline. (2019)

As I revisited his book for this week’s post, I took Kelly’s (2016) choice of this verb form as a challenge for us to maintain the momentum of each one. We bear the onus of responsibility to continue: becomingcognifyingflowingscreening..accessingsharingfiltering…remixinginteracting…trackingquestioningbeginning. I perceived Kelly’s (2016) choice of verbs as a poetic way of telling us to be continuous participants in the momentum known as technology. Continuous participation vs. passivity. I’m more than ok with that.

So, about my students and developing their concept of leadership.

They might be adolescents, but they are still humans (even on tough days). They see needs around them and believe they can fill them. Many times, they are successful in their endeavors. Seriously, we might not need a full committee to pull off a successful coffee house. Now, they know what to do (they survived their maiden voyage a few months back) and they can do it again. They are following the example set for them by last year’s seniors who followed the example of their predecessors. For many in our community, those seniors = “great men” (and, hopefully, more than a few “great women”). When they are successful in planning and executing a coffee house, blood drive, semi-formal, or anything else that is part of the high school experience, they are frequently perceived as heroes. It is common for leaders of this type to be described as “born”…not developed. No great wisdom was shared by graduating seniors to those who followed them. The new leaders simply replicated what they observed: Leaders do it all themselves. As I write this, I can just imagine my first-year students shaking their heads and telling me, “See? We told you. We don’t have the ‘leader smarts’ to even consider helping out. We’ll just wait until someone tells us what we’re supposed to do.”

While considering my students and their leadership, Michele Martin‘s blogpost on developing a Professional Learning Community rang a bell. Her citing of Umair Haque had me at: “They want to be who leaders are, but cannot: they want the benefits of leadership, without the price; they want the respect, dignity, and title of leadership, without leading people to lives that matter; they want the love leaders earn, act by painful act, without, in return, having the courage, humility, and wisdom to love.” Sounds hollow, doesn’t it? Although this might be taking place in the halls or classrooms of a high school campus versus corporate America, this sums up what I’m observing in my students. There has to be more to leadership than what we’re seeing.

Martin goes on to share her concept of leaders as being social artists. The 7 points she uses to frame the concept of social artists all made sense to me, but I do admit to getting stuck on her first one; the fact that social artists do not invite followership. This would be a good time to explain that my definition of followership doesn’t necessarily match Martin’s (at least, I don’t think it does). My definition, formed by Ira Chaleff’s (2009, p. 13) theory, namely:

Chaleff’s (2009) theory mirrors Martin’s other points. He tells us that followership is practiced in an organizational environment that encourages risk-taking, bravery, honesty, and trust, and welcome innovation. Learning followership is learning how to lead from the middle versus from the top down.

Question: Can technology and increased connectivity help develop a more collaborative model of leadership (read followership)?

I believe Martin’s 11 essentials are quite suitable for using technology to develop healthy leadership in my students. Here’s how I visualize them: *Hosting space/convening-– providing “safe spaces” that will encourage my students to gather. These days, my students are working at establishing an a cappella group on campus. I am encouraging them to dialogue about repertoire, scheduling, and other organizational/creative aspects that come with starting a new group. I could take care of these items on my own but prefer to have my students share in the work (leading to their investing themselves in the effort). There are times when we can gather everyone in one, physical space, but life get complicated and so do our afternoons. For times like these, we depend upon group chat. Anyone can start a conversation at any time, and all members are welcome (and encouraged) to respond. *Observing and Listening is part and parcel of our hosting/convening. So far, this has yielded valuable discussions as the members are working hard to set goals and guidelines that best suit the group. *Asking powerful questions: These days, the biggest question is, “WHY?” I’ve been so impressed by the openness and trust my students have been demonstrating, especially as they’ve shared their vulnerability. *Constant, self-directed learning/Connecting: My students have been provided with online resources to support their development in the area of a cappella. This is a relatively new style of ensemble work for them, so they is much to learn. We are all benefitting from the connectedness we have with the A Cappella Education Association. A great network with much to be learned/shared. We are connecting with one another in relative real-time (being respectful of class time, etc.) *“Kindling and fanning an extravagant hope”: This group is a step out in faith for my students. Their goal is to establish a group that will challenge its members. Connectedness with each other and students from other schools (from all over the country) who share their passion for music (especially a cappella) is helping to keep their enthusiasm stoked. *Co-creating – What are they doing? They are listening to covers, trying their hand at programming, arranging, considering best voices for solos, and they are doing this as members of a team…no silos (yes, this is “music teacher heaven”)! *Transparency and “working out loud”: These students are taking pride in the discoveries they are making and ground being gained. *Media literacies: We’re staying connected via ethical use of the school’s FB page, our own Instagram accounts, and Twitter. *Working in-person and virtually: As we’re heading off to our Christmas break, this is especially significant for us. There will be several opportunities for us to perform over break, but our connectivity will provide us with the chance to share. If we’re not there to receive the message immediately, it will be waiting for us when we pick up our end of the connection.

So many tools…so little time. During the last 8 weeks, I’ve been able to investigate a variety of online resources and their purposes, and am already making use of a number of them. Some of them are instructional in nature, while others are organizational. Technology and connectivity has a great deal to offer my students and me, not the least of which is the opportunity for my students to learn how to lead…from the middle. I described what my a cappella group is experiencing through technology and connectivity, but this is just one example of how I, along with my colleagues, am trying to turn the tide from a leader-centric to a healthy, leader/follower dyad model. This is a pretty large ship to turn, so we don’t expect signifiant change to come overnight. Our hope is that we will be able make inroads by providing examples of healthy leadership models for other students and groups to observe.

References

Chaleff, I. (2009). The courageous follower : Standing up to and for our leaders (Vol. 3rd ed). San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com.cuhsl.creighton.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=311024&site=ehost-live

Kelly, K. (2016). The inevitable: Understanding the 12 technological forces that will shape our future. NY, NY: Penguin Books.