Do I give in or fight back?
Date: August 25, 2010
I teach in a very large school with what has traditionally been a very strong Performing Arts program. Our school went to block scheduling several years ago (before I joined the team) and, quite honestly, implemented a fairly effective system. Music classes are on "mini blocks" for first and fourth block - meeting every day for 50 minutes each - we start and end the day ten minutes before/after the rest of the building. Second and third blocks meet every other day for 95 minutes.
For the first three or four years, English and Math were offered on mini's as well (which apparently was promised when they designed the initial block schedule) so that our students didn't have to give up a class in order to take band, choir or orchestra. Within the last two years they have taken away these other classes (due to enrollment and FTE's) and our music students are now having to give up two class blocks in order to take one class. This is especially tricky for the students participating in the advanced groups because they must be in the larger ensemble in order to participate in any select group, therefore giving up three blocks to take two classes. I have not known a program were students we able to be in the chamber/show/jazz choirs without supporting the larger choirs.
My questions are:
1) What are your thoughts on allowing the advanced students to only be in the select ensembles? Have you seen it before? How might it work without bloating egos and creating a "good" choir vs. "bad" choir? (I have worked with that mentality before and don't want to go back there!) I have never known it any other way, so I feel that I would be sacrificing much if I change my program to make it fit the current schedule.
2) Our parents and students are very frustrated with this situation, as is our department, because we are seeing great kids walk out the door (what does that say to all of the students we are trying to recruit). It has been a topic of concern for two years now, we've talked with departments, we've discussed it with administration without any change. So, do I give in? Say, "It is what it is - wish you could make it work... my hands are tied." Or, do I fight it, get the parents involved and risk shaking the boat... a lot.
What would you do or what have you done to fight for your students to be able to make it all work together? It's possible, right? I am feeling quite defeated and that is no way to start the year. :)
Thank you for your ideas!
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