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- October 18, 2018 at 4:34 pm #580938alanacembalaParticipant
I’m in a new position at a high school with a choir program for the first time ever. Very exciting. Small group, mostly 9th graders. I have two girls who sit while everyone is standing, are frequently off-task, and are preoccupied with finding reasons to leave class/rehearsal, such as restroom, making up work in another class, going to the guidance office, the nurse, etc. One of these girls, however, questions everything I do. She raises her hand, thus stopping rehearsal and lets me know what I just did that was incorrect. Because she is rarely mentally engaged, she is not aware of my instructions to the group, such as “The men will sing Part I an octave below and the women will sing Part II on this piece.”
When I stop to explain myself, she rolls her eyes, says something under her breath to the person next to her, and cuts me off saying “Never mind…”
She was a student at the same school/choir program I worked where I worked last year as the assistant director/accompanist. She was rarely engaged/on-task, never came to after-school rehearsals/events. Yet the director, let it go unaddressed. In fact, she was in an “Advanced Ensemble.”
Should I practice the extinction strategy and refuse to stop to respond to her hand being raised? I don’t mind when a student calls my attention to an error I’m making. I usually appreciate it and it confirms that the student is actively engaged in the rehearsal process.
But being repeatedly questioned or challenged on every instructional decision I make–to the point where it’s hijacking the rehearsal–well, I want to be smart in how I respond since I am new and building rapport and relationships with these kids, trying to establish and cultivate a rehearsal dynamic that is safe and encouraging. This class is a first for all but this particular student, because this district does not offer any music at the elementary level and no choral music at the middle school level. I want this class and my room to be an inviting and positive place to be. Not one during which everyone is standing around waiting for me to explain myself repeatedly to one student who doesn’t pay attention or agree with my approach. I don’t want to give my new choir the impression that I’m on the defensive.
Suggestions, please! Much appreciated.December 14, 2018 at 11:53 am #584260corbineParticipant
I am just seeing this a bit late, but I tell her I would be happy to discuss any questions/concerns with her after class. If she stays after class, you can answer all questions in private, without her questioning you in front of the whole class. You also will set the idea that you will listen to what the students have to say while still spending maximum time on rehearsals.
As far as the students who sit while everyone is standing, I will wait for everyone to stand. If it takes a while, I will say, “We’re just waiting for two more people to stand.” Eventually the other students get sick of waiting and will peer pressure them into standing. Because it comes from their peers, they’re more likely to do it. That and it avoids an unnecessary battle with them.
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