Last week I had the pleasure of starting my Junior Secondary Professional Experience at a selective co-ed high school in Sydney and I must admit, I was not feeling all too confident about going there. The school was known to me as a very high ranking school in terms of HSC rankings and I felt quite intimidated, all I could think was, What the heck could I do with these kids?. But to my relief, the minute I arrived at the school the teachers were so kind and welcoming that I felt much more at ease and I thought maybe I can do this?
There were a few big changes from my last prac (Primary School) that took me a while to comprehend.
Some thoughts that went through my mind before starting....
My first day (Monday) was a staff development day where I observed a few staff meetings and discussions between faculties regarding issues such as the wellbeing of students and the effects of COVID-19 on student's learning and content. As a student, I'd never been to any SDD's and just enjoyed a day off school, but now being on the other side, I realise how much work teachers put in to give students their best chance of succeeding.
Tuesday was the first day of teaching with and the first day back for students after a very locked down school holidays. Many students reminisced about how they were not allowed out of their homes during the holidays to avoid risk of infection. My first observation was with a year 7 class who were about to start their first music lesson in high school (the school 'semesterises' the arts subjects in year 7). The teacher asked students why they thought music was compulsory in year 7 and 8.
Some responses included...
Later that day I observed a double period with year 11, followed by a double with year 10 where they did practise papers and composition, respectively.
Wednesday was a fun filled day of TRIPLE year 8 learning the SAME SONG (Fireflies by Owl City) on Guitars, in preparation for their pop song cover assignment. This task was a part of their Pop Song unit. The teacher scaffolded the lesson really well with a class analysis worksheet full of questions corresponding with the concepts of music and pop song analysis.
As well as observing students in the classroom, I accompanied my supervisor to watch the students during tennis for sport.
Thursday started off with triple year 8 again with more guitar practise, followed by my first lesson teaching year 7. This particular class hadn't had any music lesson in high school before so I started them off with some Harry Potter Polyrhythms. Following the song from the following YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tx1XIm6q4r4
I had planned for students to complete all 5 parts of singing within this double period, however, in practise it was very difficult to engage all the students. Being Year 7, they were quite shy and very quiet in class, especially the girls. I ended up teaching students the Snape, Dumbledore and Ron parts. I split the class into 3 groups and asked them to sing this as a class. Once they could sing it well, I transferred each part onto classroom percussion instruments (Glockenspiel for Snape, Triangle for Dumbledore, Tambourine for Ron).
Once we'd sung and played it a couple times I asked them a few questions about metre, beat, rhythm etc. and crafted a graphic notation of the rhythm on the whiteboard as a class. I then split students into 4 groups of roughly 5, tasking them with composing their own polyrhythm in groups with the intention of holding a performance at the end of the double period.
Upon reflection this was quite successful! Students seemed really engaged and excited to be playing instruments that they had not played before. Many of the students were pianists and string players, so it seemed fitting to have them all on a level playing field and play percussion for this activity.
Friday came along very quickly for me, but not quickly enough for the eager year 11 students who had a very tumultuous journey with the school musical. I'd heard that the musical had been changed, cancelled and re-organised many times throughout the last year due to the changing circumstances with COVID-19. The students performed Big Fish and I must say I was very impressed with the final performance, considering the troubles they had faced in attempts to stage the show.
Thanks for reading this week's blog entry!
As always, keep safe and I look forward to writing about week 2 of my Professional Experience!