“IT WAS ALL IN A DAY’S WORK.”
(RESEARCH ON THE DAILY REFLECTIONS OF MUSIC FIELD EXPERIENCE, STUDENT TEACHERS,
FIRST-YEAR AND EXPERIENCED TEACHERS)
William E. Fredrickson
Conservatory of Music
University of Missouri-Kansas City
In the last twenty years the act of consciously reflecting upon the process of teaching has become a common practice in many teacher education institutions. The “reflective practitioner” who can thoughtfully analyze, criticize, and or choose alternatives based upon their training, experiences, and value orientation is the standard for our future teachers to emulate. But anyone who teaches knows that reality in classrooms is such that the time for reflection is not always available. Even when that time is available, we as teachers are often under so much pressure from various sources that we may not choose to “take the time” to “reflect” today before setting up the plans for tomorrow, if indeed we can make the time to plan. In a series of studies conducted over the last ten years, and with an eye toward the other research and writing in this area related to music teacher education, my colleagues and I have asked current and future music teachers to reflect and write about the events in their days. We wanted to know what the important issues were for music teachers when they were asked to systematically consider their teaching day.
Participants were asked to fill out a journal form on a daily basis. The form required teachers to start the day by rating their expectation for that teaching day on a scale of one to ten, with ten being best and one being worst. Later in the day they were asked to come back to the form and give a very brief outline of the day’s activities. Then they were to write a sentence or two about the best aspect of that day and a sentence or two more about the worst aspect of the day. Finally they were to use the one-to-ten scale again to rate how the day actually turned out.
In examining the data we chose to focus on the comments written under “best aspect of the day” and “worst aspect of the day”, assuming that these things represented issues in the forefront of that teacher’s mind at the time. The comments broke down into five basic categories relating to 1) the job of teaching, 2) music learning, 3) positive and negative social interactions with students, 4) personal teaching competencies and, 5) other [non-school related life issues].
As teachers progress through their professional experiences, moving from the early stages of training to the full-time teaching environment, the focus of their attention appears to change. There are interesting patterns that develop as music teachers learn their craft and eventually start to contribute to developing the next generation of teachers. These patterns are informative as it relates to issues of teacher recruitment, training, and retention.