There was a nice article in the Butler Eagle written about my journey. Though you can't read the entire article without a subscription, you can read part of it here. Check it out :)
I said before that I would post some more thoughts, and I figure with school officially starting tomorrow, that this would be a good time to wrap things up!
The past week has been full of faculty meetings, training, planning, and classroom set up. During all of this I've had plenty of time to reflect on my fellowship and how I hope to incorporate what I have learned into the classroom. After all, the goal of FFT is to transfer your fellowship learning to your students. So here are some of the things I have planned and have taken away from this experience:
1. I plan to have my students do more so I can do less. Something that really stood out to me was how much accountability the students in Kenya had for their program. Even the young, primary aged students were responsible for setting up chairs and stands, making sure the instruments were safe, and cleaning up the room. There is no reason my kiddos can't do the same! I have a tendency to try and do too much, but I hope this will be the catalyst I need to finally do less! (Which will ultimately allow me to do more!)
2. Sing, sing, sing! Of course I will be teaching general music, so naturally my kids will sing more. However, I was so impressed with every single child's ability to sing without any inhibitions in Kenya. That is a culture and a climate I plan to continue.
3. Cut the bells and whistles in my lessons. I find myself trying to plan the most entertaining lessons to keep my students engaged and active throughout the lesson. YES. Obviously this is important-- students need to be engaged in order to learn. However, I also now see that my lessons don't always have to be the most exciting lessons in the world for it to be interesting. There are elements of music that just aren't super exciting, and I don't have to make them exciting for my kiddos to learn them. I don't need a song and a dance for everything-- they are fully capable of learning without. That doesn't mean my lessons will be boring of course, I just realized that I don't need all of the bells and whistles for them to learn!
4. Video messages to Kenya! I hope to be able to record some videos to send to the kids in Kenya-- and hopefully receive some back. I think this would be SO FUN for the students.
And then there are a couple of long term goals specifially for the classroom:
1. Start a Link Up program at my school. Link Up is the curriculum The Art of Music uses. It's a global program sponsored by Carnegie Hall. I contacted them about starting a program, but first I need to find an orchestra to connect with. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I can make something happen at UGA. Though it likely won't happen this year, hopefully next year we can get it going!
2. Homestay program for students. I spoke with director of the Safaricom Youth Orchestra about beginning a homestay program to bring students from Kenya here and vice versa. Again, this will take some time, but we are keeping it in our radars and working towards that long term goal.
These are just the classroom goals I have in mind for this year. I have some personal goals as well, like staying connected with the Ghetto Classics students by sending them music and videos, sending supplies and instruments over there, and maybe even helping a few students audition for music programs in the United States. Of course I sincerely hope to be able to return next summer as well, but we're taking it one day at a time for now!
So with those goals being written, I think that is all for now. This has been an absolutely incredible journey and I can't wait to see how it continues. Through the Fund for Teachers program, all recipients are required to complete a passport. Mine can be viewed here. (Just ignore the part that says South Africa-- originally I was supposed to go there-- long story.) Give it a read and let me know what you think. Thank you all for sharing this experience with me. Writing this blog has been a wonderful addition to my project, and I'm so thankful I decided to do it. For now I sign off by saying, cheers to an amazing summer and an even better school year!
I am honored to have been selected as a 2018 Fund for Teachers Fellowship Recipient. Through this grant I will travel to Nairobi, Kenya to work the the El Sistema based music program, Ghetto Classics. This blog will share information and stories about my first journey to Africa.