Tuesday, July 26, 2016

001 - Returning the Saturday Morning band director chat to the 21st century OR How to be a connected educator.

This blog began as an assignment for a professional development summer class offered through the USD #385 (Andover Schools) Tech Department with the awesome Dyane Smokorowski @mrs_Smoke and Micah Brown @MBrownEdTech based on Matt Miller's book "Ditch that Textbook."

The assignment was "Why Be A Connected Educator" and one of the options for answering the question was to create a blog and submitting a post to answer the question.  

To summarize some of Matt Miller's ideas from "Ditch that Textbook" with a few of my own ideas - 1) all teachers should share what they are doing in their classroom with other teachers -  share ideas, resources, strategies, challenges, and results.  2) It helps teachers reflect upon their teaching.  What went well? What didn't work that you thought would work?  When you teach the lesson again, what will you change?  Will you use the same resources again?  Will you edit the resource or start all over from scratch.  3)  Matt states "Blogging shows how you've changed as an educator".  How do you teach differently now from last year, 3 years ago, 8 years ago, or 20 years ago?  Share it for those starting the path that you have just journeyed on.  Can you find resources for other teachers to use and can YOU be a resource for another teacher. 

Learn more about Matt Miller and "Ditch That Textbook"

Mr. Robert E. Foster
University of Kansas
Director of Bands
In a Lawrence Journal-World article dated June 19, 1983 Mr. Foster comments on starting the Band Directors Institute (BDI) at the University of Kansas.  "As a young band director in Texas I enjoyed big, good music stores with coffee pots that worked a lot on Saturdays"..."That particular interchange of ideas was just a really important part of a young teacher's education."  Foster continued, "The principal motivation behind the Institute {Band Director's Institute}, was that we can all can do more together than we can do all by ourselves."  

I was in attendance the first three years after I completed my Bachelor's Degree at the University of Kansas soaking in as much information as possible from the clinicians and experienced teachers in attendance.  They may have tired of my questions, but there was so much to learn.

Teaching in the year 2016 has changed greatly from the 1980s and 1990s (and you will never see pictures of me from those decades on this blog).   For younger teachers, this was a time when there was no internet, no e-mail, no cell phones, no text messaging, and  long-distance phone rates were very expensive for a young teacher.  It was a day of tape recorders, taking roll by writing the names of absent students on a piece of paper and hanging it outside the room on a nail or clothespin and writing grades  on a set-of carbon copied cards and then passing the set to the next teacher down the hallway at the end of the grading period.  When you started teaching you were a teacher on an island and you learned by trial-and-error.  While trial-and-error is an effective way to learn it is not the most efficient way to learn as you repeat errors that you could learn from experienced teachers. The solution was to travel to where the experts were.  Developing your Professional Learning Network (PLN) and becoming your own professional development director meant traveling in your car to the music store on a Saturday morning.

I am reflecting this summer on how I learned to "be a band director" almost 30 years ago.   I remember sitting down and listening to directors like Brad Bone, Don Farthing, Dale Casteel, and Bill Johnson to name only a few and trying to soak up as much knowledge as possible. I attended BDI at KU, I took classes in Chicago at the VanderCook College of Music in their summer MECA program, and summer classes from Wichita State University and Friends University.  I attended the Kansas Bandmaster's Summer Convention every July and the Kansas Music Educator's Association every February.  I also remember driving to Senseney Music on Harry Street and to Wingert-Jones in downtown Kansas City to learn what music I could and should play with the grade 2 level high school band I was learning to teach.   I remember being in awe as I would see the great band directors of our state come into the store and sometimes be introduced to one of these legends and have the opportunity to shake their hand.  (Hint: I'm an introvert). 

While I look back nostalgically at the start of my teaching career in the 1980s, I admit that I love my iPhone, iPad, Wifi, YouTube recordings of the Holst 1st Suite and Mahler symphonies at my fingertips, drill charts printed with Pyware displayed on my iPad, the ability to record students on a phone with amazing quality, Skype, Email and copy machines that can print more than six copies per minute and make a cup of coffee at the same time.

For those that taught in the 80s and 90s and enjoy the 20teens, it is time for us to move forward onto a new platform,  to pass down what was passed down to us, to share our experience while at the same time continuing to learn from directors young enough to be our former students and our sons or daughters.   At the 2016 Kansas Bandmaster's Convention summer workshop/convention, I presented on the topic "Managing a Large Band Program" which I plan to share in a future blog post.  Following my presentation, a teacher 20 years my junior presented one of the best clinics of the convention (I will be inviting him to write some guest posts on the outstanding materials he has created to teach his band) - I'm also hoping to have an in-service day when I can travel to his school and watch his amazing teaching in action with his students.

My goal for the Saturday Morning at the Music Store blog is to "do more together as band directors and music educators for students".  I hope this can be a relaxed and informal place to share ideas as we used to sit around a table drinking coffee and "talking shop" on a Saturday morning in the back room of the music store.  I invite others to guest blog - please share this platform with me.  I'm not the sage on the stage - I'm another person sitting around the table hoping to learn something from someone else working in the trenches.  What do you do in your classroom that  might be very useful to the band director down the road, in the next state, across the country?  I look forward to the journey - join me!

Did I get this cultural reference right Bethany?


  1. Glad to see you in the blogging world! I have found that it is a great way to share ideas, and to keep a record of them throughout the years!

  2. Nice job Mr. Linville! Thanks for the memories and sharing your adventures:) Looking forward to another great school year.


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