When I first started teaching, I would often remark that I “lived on an island”. And mostly, that statement was true. I taught by myself, ate by myself, and stayed after hours by myself. It got so bad that I spent more time talking to the copy machine than I did another human being. Mostly, I cursed its inability to print even one sheet of paper without jamming.
After my first year of teaching in solitude, I decided that I couldn’t go on without finding connections with other music teachers. I didn’t care who. I just wanted to talk to someone who didn’t give me a funny look when I brought up marching band in casual conversation. So, I turned to the internet. The concept of blogging was still in its infancy at the time, and I immediately took hold.
Suddenly I was thrown into a world full of music teachers whose experiences mirrored my own. I hadn’t felt that connected since my years of training at college, and it slowly permeated other areas of my life. I began to feel more confident when approaching other teachers in my building. Eventually, my little island turned into a close-knit community. Throughout the years, I’ve gained many close friends, most of whom don’t teach music, and some that don’t teach at all.
So, if you’re feeling like you’re alone on an island, here are a few tips to help you connect.
READ MUSIC BLOGS
I don’t say this just because I’m a blogger and want you to read my posts (though that would be nice). I say this because reading blogs was my first step to feeling connected. Reading blogs is what inspired me to start my own. Not only will you feel more connected, but your teaching will improve as you read about other teachers’ ideas, brand-new music tech, and the latest research. You won’t be hampered by only knowing what’s going on in your region of the country. Click HERE to visit Musicedblogs.com, and start reading!
This seems obvious, but remains an important step in connecting with other music teachers. Attending conferences can be difficult when the school system you work for won’t pay for the fee, or in my situation, won’t allow you to take a professional day in order to go (even though I was willing to pay all the expenses). However, it’s important to make it a priority, every year, to attend either a local, state, or national conference. I always leave conferences feeling inspired to take on new challenges and experiment with new methods.
BE A PINNER
I still remember the day that I was invited to join Pinterest (when it first started, you had to be invited by someone who was already a member). Since then, it’s become the first site I visit when looking for organization tips or do-it-yourself projects for the classroom. Most of the amazing blogs I read, I first discovered on Pinterest. It’s more than just crafts now-a-days. It’s like a teacher’s second (or third) home. Click HERE to see what I’ve been pinning lately.
Twitter is an amazing place to connect with other music teacher’s on a day-to-day basis. Best of all, you can join chats focused on a specific topic each week. For example, the #elmusedchat is a weekly chat in which you can discuss topics ranging from classroom management to music education methodologies. I’ve always found these chats to be welcoming and full of fantastic advice. You can check them out HERE.
If you’d like to be matched up with another music teacher in whom to share your teaching joys and struggles, David from Make Moments Matter created an excellent program in which you can do just that! Click HERE to fill out his form.
If you feel still feel like you’re alone on an island, send me an email (click the envelope at the top, right-hand corner of my blog). Maybe we can chat about music education, or the struggles of classroom management, or your obsession with coffee. Whatever it might be, just know that you’re not alone.