In my last blog Agile Centered Instruction, I closed with the following quote: “Tell me, and I forget, teach me, and I may remember, involve me, and I learn” (Xun Kuang). This quote sums up my experience and sometimes frustration with the education profession for the last fifty-five years.
“Tell me, and I forget” is what I experienced throughout my K – 12 education. Most, if not all, instruction was through the direct teaching model and very monologic. For my post-secondary education, “teach me, and I may remember” was the theme as most of the instruction was still through the direct teaching model with some roleplay, and collaboration and dialogue with my professors and peers. Now as I complete my thirty-fourth year of teaching K – 12 vocal music, I realize that “involve me, and I learn” is my primary instructional strategy as I continue to search for the answer to the following question:
How do I actively engage students in lifelong music learning and participation?
Beatles Karaoke #5
I just completed grading my last assignment of the year called Beatles Karaoke #5. I am so proud of my students work; they did an outstanding job. Each choir member created their own rehearsal plan (we call Self-Sprint Planning), shared their ideas with other choir members on Flipgrid, and finally submitted their video to me through Google Classroom.
For their performances, some students sang karaoke-style, accompanied themselves on the piano, guitar, or ukulele. In contrast, others found sequencing software, created their own arrangement, or recorded additional harmonies to go along with their singing. Through watching their videos, I realized that I do not want, nor do I promote perfection in the classroom. We focus on our individual capability and innate desire to participate, create, and respond through music.
Community of Practice (CoP)
I credit my students’ ability to be creative and express their musical personalities through what we experience as a learning community, or Community of Practice in the classroom. It is not solely through my direction but also their intentional relationship with music and their learning experience. Starting with our first rehearsal, we as an ensemble (1) acknowledge our shared mission and interest – Mutual Engagement, (2) agree upon a common set of standards and expectations – Joint Enterprise, and (3) learn a shared vocabulary and expectations – Shared Repertoire, that differentiates our class from the others.
What differentiates my class from other disciplines in the school? It is because of the expectations set forth by The Community of Practice and my use of the Cognitive Apprenticeship model in the classroom. My students become so accustomed to me teaching out loud that they feel very comfortable with our learning environment and join in the dialogue of music learning through Reciprocal Teaching.
Using the Cognitive Apprenticeship model, I encourage my students to go beyond their idea of the traditional choir rehearsal and become more confident and comfortable in participating in both the learning and teaching roles in my classroom. I leave time and space during instruction for my students to identify and demonstrate the following teaching and learning strategies.
Cognitive Apprenticeship Teaching and Learning Strategies (Collins, 1989)
- Modeling – demonstrate and verbalize their thinking process
- Coaching – assist and support individual and group activities
- Exploration – formulate and test individual and group teaching strategies
- Reflection – assess and self-analyze teaching strategies and class activities
- Articulation – verbalize the results of Performance and reflection
As I reflect upon my years of experience in teaching, I realize that my style of instruction resembles the mentor-apprentice model of education. The mentor-apprentice model cultivates musical autonomy for my students and helps them become aware of both the product and process in music-making. In dialogue with my students, we came to realize that there is not just one, but four mentor-teacher styles.
Two books that recently have had a profound impact on my understanding and helped me shape the following Four Mentor-Teacher Styles is The Culture of Education (Bruner, 1996) and The Experiential Educator (Kolb & Kolb, 2017). In chapter 2, Folk Pedagogy, Jerome Bruner presents four views of teaching-and-learning that each emphasizes different learning and educational goals. These models are not separate teaching strategies or instructional approaches, but all four are integrated into the music classroom. The Experiential Educator led me to the Kolb Educator Role Profile (KERP). This instrument is specifically designed to help teachers identify their instructional tendencies and shift between the Facilitator, Expert, Evaluator, and Coach roles.
ADIF Four Mentor-Teaching Styles
The following Four Mentor-Teaching Styles builds upon the mentor-apprenticeship paradigm and incorporates the four models of teaching-and-learning (Bruner, 1996, p 53-61) labeled Student Profile, and the Four Educators Roles (KERP, p 4) labeled Teacher Profile.
You will notice that the first two styles Apprenticeship of Imitation and Apprenticeship of Information are Subject-Focused, while Apprenticeship of Interpretation and Apprenticeship of Incorporation are Learner-Focused. It must be noted that each knowledge structure is not isolated and is to be used fluently in the classroom.
Conclusion: Building A Community of Practice
Building a community of practice is what we do as a profession when a group of people/students come together for a common cause. Applying and varying the four Mentor-Teaching Styles ensures that each student will have opportunities to find their “voice” and become co-owners of their learning experience. There will be a time when the mentor will no longer, and the apprentice will become the new master.
I tell my students: “If in fifteen years you are unable to help your son or daughter read music,
then I have failed you” – Tell me, and I forget.
“If in fifteen years you are unable to audition for a community choir successfully,
then I have failed you” – teach me, and I may remember.
“If in fifteen years you are unable to sit still and sing during a concert or church service,
then I have been successful – involve me, and I learn.
Bruner, Jerome Seymour. The Culture of Education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997.
Dennen, V.P., Burner, K.J., 2008. The cognitive apprenticeship model in educational practice. In: Spector, J.M., Merrill, M.D., Van Merriënbuer, J., Driscoll, M.P. (Eds.), Handbook of Research on Educational Communications and Technology. Taylor and Francis, New York, pp. 425–440.
Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development (Vol. 1). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Lortie, Dan Clement. Schoolteacher: A Sociological Study. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002.