Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Plain Talk

I stumbled on a file card where I had scribbled advice for my Level III students after their Practicum Teach. Part of graduating from our summer Orff Certification Course involves teaching a 15-minute lesson drawing from a piece in one of  Volumes of Music For Children that Carl Orff and Gunild Keetman wrote. I said “advice” above and it could be, but in reality it was a summary of how they actually taught that was so clearly effective. I can give them this list before they teach, but it wouldn’t mean the same as modeling the list in my own teaching with them, naming what seems to make each activity both pleasurable and effective and then letting them loose to teach in their own voice, their own style. The quality of the teaching showed that they got the memo and this summary list was both an affirmation and a reminder.


What I like about it is its simplicity, the way it plainly says what it means without spilling into the fancy educational jargon (“the zone of proximal development and scaffolding theory”). I’ve often thought about publishing a small book with these kind of simple suggestions that actually can change your teaching forever— and for the better. Though aimed at Orff Schulwerk music and movement teachers, these suggestions apply to all of teaching. 


Here's the list:

·      Have fun. 

·      Teach in your character.

·      Teach from your culture.

·      Begin in the body and voice.

·      Keep the engine running.

·      Leave space for the student’s creative response— you give a ping, they give a pong and the game is on!

·      Have fun.

·      Adapt, change, modify, add, subtract what’s on the page.

·      Make yourself memorable. Make the class memorable. Make the students’ participation memorable. 

·      Have fun. 


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