Music in the Middle with Mr D!!!
What levels and subjects do you teach and what's a little bit of your teaching journey?
I teach chorus and musical theater to grades 6 through grade 8. When I began teaching in 1989, I was awful. I looked young for my age, and I thought I had to be mean to the children to gain their respect. Boy was I wrong! It was ugly, and I was miserable. They pushed back really hard, and ultimately, they taught me how to relate to this age group. In the second semester, I adjusted my approach, and things began to get better, but it wasn't until year 3 that I truly felt comfortable enough to think I could truly make teaching my career. By year five, I was totally hooked for life. I had found some wonderful role models in middle school choral music education who inspired me and showed me that middle school children could make beautiful music.
How'd you get started on TeachersPayTeachers?
Many years ago, I developed a way to teach sight singing to true beginners in this age group. I shared it with my peers in the district in which I taught and at state conventions. I wanted to write a book, but then I thought to myself..."It's been done...many, many times". Sight Singing books are a dime a dozen.
Then, one day, I saw this article on Deanna Jump in Inc. magazine. In that moment, I realized that, using technology, I could give teachers a sight singing "book" that really was much more than a book. As a teacher, I always learn the most when I watch other teachers. Reading a teacher's manual is great, but seeing the material being taught to real students and getting video teaching tips would be even better! I see my program as a modern day textbook and workshop wrapped up all in one...and teachers can progress with their students at their own pace using their own computers. I am so grateful for the TPT platform.
What aspect of teaching really gets you fired up?
Making the kids laugh, having fun with them and watching them get invested and committed as they begin to realize the fruits of their hard work.
What's the funniest/weirdest/most awful memory you have from your early days of teaching?
As I mentioned above, I was so mean to the students my first semester. I made them angry by the way I treated them. So, around November of my first year, I arrived to school early, as I always do. Almost no one was there except the custodians. As I approached my room, a terrible smell was in the air. As I got closer and closer, the smell got worse. I turned the corner to my room...which was the only room on the hall...and someone had...
...how can I say this delicately...
well, there isn't a way...
Someone had pooped outside my door.
I had made a child so angry with me that, with pre-meditation, she stayed after school and left that "present" for me.
Talk about a wake-up call...
It didn't take me long to decide to either figure this teaching thing out or move on to something else.
So, I started digging deep within and doing lots of self-assessment.
At the time I was horrified by the event. Now, I laugh about it, and I am glad I decided to take a look at my approach and do some major tweaking!
Which of your resources do you enjoy teaching the most?
I like teaching the game, "Forbidden Pattern" that is the first lesson in my S-Cubed Middle School Sight Singing program. It allows the teacher to have fun and be silly with the children while teaching solfege. It creates a wonderful chemistry between the teacher and the student that sets up the philosophy of my sight singing program.
I absolutely love the work of Bullyproof music. I love the messages of the songs she shares, and I hope more teachers find her work!
My "hobby on steroids" is Aerobic Gymnastics. I am a former US National Champion in the sport. I competed during my first few years of teaching, and I fell in love with the sport. I coached and choreographed for many years, and now, I judge the sport internationally. I am going to Japan in early April to judge one of our World Series events called the Suzuki World Cup.
I love animals. I have a dog and a cat. I also have a cockatiel who flew up on my porch 25 years ago. Since the average lifespan of a cockatiel is 15 years, her "sell-by date" has definitely come and gone. I treasure each day with her.
If you could travel back in time to tell your 12-year-old self one thing, what would you tell yourself?
You are enough. Be yourself. Be comfortable with who you are. In fact, it is because of your uniqueness and your ability to embrace it that you will soar. Not only is it going to be ok, but it's going to be amazing...beyond your imagination.
Mr. D., thanks so much for stopping by to let us get to know you better! Your YouTube Music Kingdom is pretty dang awe-inspiring, and holy rusted metal, Batman, remind me to never challenge you to a one-handed pushup competition (Yes, we saw the Championship Performances . . .). Keep on being made of awesome!
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Music in the Middle with Mr D!!!