Observe, learn from, and participate in classes at the Music Enlightenment Project in Johannesburg, South Africa, to develop strategies for working with youth from low income areas in an instrumental music classroom setting.
Traveling to Kenya has opened my eyes to a world that I've never before seen. I have a greater understanding of the term "third world country" and a much broader perspective of the world as a result of my fellowship. It is possible for students to learn in uncomfortable situations, and that is something that I didn't fully understand before taking this journey. This trip was as much a personal journey as it was a professional one for me.
I plan to have my students take more ownership of their classes and their environment. This means giving them more responsibilities and ownership in everything it is we do. From the music room set up to passing out instruments, it is important for them to take pride in their class and be responsible for their own materials. On a more specific note, I plan to begin using the "Link Up" recorder program books in my classroom so we can be a part of the global movement this program has created!
I was incredibly proud of myself for standing up and conducting the wind ensemble in their concert performance. Standing in front of a group I don't know is something about which I often find myself nervous. However, I was confident in my abilities as a musician and as a conductor and we successfully played our piece at a very high level. The audience loved it, the students were happy, and I could stand proud knowing I overcame a fear of my own.
My experiences have shown me that students can learn despite the worst of circumstances. This will allow me to hold my students to a higher standard because I know that learning can be achieved no matter what. I will be able to treat them in a more mature way and expect that they can deliver whatever it is I am asking for. I have also learned a few tips and tricks in teaching recorder that I can directly apply to my lessons for my fifth-grade recorder classes.
I plan to keep my connection with Ghetto Classics alive throughout the year. This means sharing recorded performances of my students to them and vice-versa. This also means working with my other music teachers in my district to keep the positivity of my fellowship alive. Because my fellowship was so focused on recorder playing, there will be many opportunities for collaboration with other music teachers in the district such as joint concerts and shared lesson plans.
Because of my student's new learning, they will be able to handle more mature tasks which will lead to more opportunities for them. This is always a cause for celebration, whether it is individual praise or group celebratory events. This growth will manifest itself in a higher level of learning and understanding. I am constantly celebrating my student's learning, and I think this fellowship will give me even more reason to do that!
Throughout the year I hope to stay connected with the Ghetto Classics Orchestra, both individually and with my students. My students can absolutely make a difference in the Kenyan student's lives by having a positive presence for them. At the same time, having friends on a different continent will be an incredible opportunity for my students and for the students in Nairobi. Every little action can make a big difference, and that is something I will not take lightly.
The Fund for Teacher Fellowship has given me a once in a lifetime opportunity for which I will be forever grateful. It has pushed me out of my comfort zone to places I never thought I would go. It has created lifelong friendships. It has shown me how small my problems are, but at the same time made me feel like I can truly make a difference in the world. I have now seen how people with so little can be so happy and that perspective will forever stay with me.