Bandmasters Review - September 2019

Texas Bandmasters Association Bandmasters Review • September 2019 15 As an eager band director, I actively sought guidance and mentorship with regard to improving my music program. Time and time again I was met with pessimistic narratives such as, “Just finish the year and get out.” “You will never make a 1.” and “Those kids will never get it.” I was disheartened to hear this because I still identified with those very same kids. Unfortunately, not much has changed for colleagues seeking the same guidance. As I transition from the band hall into higher education, I am making the commitment to provide solutions to problems we might experience serving Title 1 settings. DISCLAIMER: I chose the term “Title 1” in order to include as many of my colleagues as possible. To better fit your respective programs, the “Title 1” term is interchangeable with urban, rural, or under-resourced. The information I am going to share is a culmination of my experience as a product, practitioner, and researcher of serving students in Title 1 settings. Establishing an Understanding of OUR Students Note my intentional use of the word “our” in this section heading. That frame of mind is the first step in understanding. The day you receive a roster, those individual names have become your students. When we seek guidance, we lead not with positive anecdotes but rather with the issues we experience. Such as, “My students don’t practice.” or “They have to go home to take care of siblings.” and “They laugh when I redirect them.” These typical examples could be the result of poverty affecting our students’ academic and behavior performance. When frustration takes over due to the inability to control our students’ environment, wemust remindourselves of that which we can control—the environment we offer. We have the ability to provide a space that is inviting, safe and celebratory of all students. For this to translate into your program, I suggest you learn to empathize with your students rather than have sympathy for them. Ten years ago, I attended my first TBA Convention/Clinic. I was fortunate enough to sit in a clinic that altered my approach to teaching from that day forward. A Title 1 band director shared personal experiences of when he attended the middle school he was now serving. The same struggles he experienced years ago continued to be evident in his students today. Some of his students walked in wearing the same clothes as the day before, lacking supplies, sleep deprived, and hungry. Initially he was drawn to finding ways to make monetary deposits, but he knew that was not a rational nor sustainable solution. Instead, he found ways to make emotional deposits to each of his students. He greeted students personably at the door and created a structured but inviting atmosphere. Once he made enough deposits, he had the ability to redirect students without the fear of “overdrafting”. (An overdraft is viewed as a negative reaction or disciplinary behavior.) When we allow ourselves to see our students as vessels that have the capacity for us to pour positive learning experiences into them, we can use music as our vehicle to drive this mission. Recruitment-Make Band Fun! In my first year of teaching I was tasked with revitalizing a middle school band program that hadn’t had a band for several years. I reached out to directors for guidance as to what I should do first. My colleague replied, “Get them a band t-shirt. Kids love t-shirts!” He was right. Every program I served has received a custom shirt design. Additionally, the shirts were approved by the administration and became a part of the approved student dress code. (See designs below.) Recruiting, Retaining, and Motivating Your Title 1 Students Eric Jimenez @3MonsterFX Victor Cervantes 30-50% of our behaviors stem from our DNA, while 50-70% stem from our environment. —Saudino, 2005