Date: January 5, 2014
I am in my second year teaching at a small Christian school. I have struggled the last year and half with the balance between meeting the students where they are and pursuing excellence. Choir at this school means a sluff class. There are many students who are only there for the credit and don't put too much (or any effort in). There are other students who do enjoy singing, but still have not experienced choir as a 'class'. Even they believe that in choir you should learn your parts and sing at the concert and that is it. There is no understanding of the importance of sight-reading, vocal/breathing technique, understanding the music as a whole. They are high school students who have a hard time seeing the bigger picture and can't see how understanding the music will help them derive more enjoyment from the music in the long run. I have tried everything I know to introduce these concepts to them. I have gone slowly. I have been crazy and energetic, I have been understanding, I started an acapella choir and on and on. Nothing is working. I continue to face obsitence, disrespect, falling numbers, and most rampantly an absolute refusual to try anything new and get on board. They don't trust me and overall they don't respect me. They don't even sit in their assigned seats. They think its ok for them to decide where they sit and when. I teach pre-k-12 and do not face these problems with the elementary or the Jr. High girls (though the jr. high boys have an awful attitude as well). I am totally at my end. I have thought that it will get better as my elementary students and jr. high students become high school students but as soon as they land in the HS choir the atmosphere is totally different, they close-up, we don't have fun and that becomes the norm. Is there anything I can do? Is it on them now? Do I continue to plow through, doing what I know is right even though it seems like I am sucking any fun out of it for them at all? I am just totally beside myself over this. Every day is a struggle and I feel anxious all the time. My best male singer told me he was quitting the other day because "he didn't like the way I was doing things." I am considering working over the next week and a half before the new semester to to revamp the curriculum and plan a parent meeting to discuss the expectations and the issues. Whatever it was in the past, MY choir class can't be a sluff class. I don't know how to teach like that. Students cannot expect to come into my class and not do the work or do it half heartedly. The other hard part is consequence. I don't know how to produce for a whole class. And with my work load I honestly don't have the time or capacity to specifically pinpoint all students for points. Any wisdom would be great. I am sick about it. Thanks.
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