ON BECOMING MUSIC EDUCATORS:
USING STAGES OF ADULT DEVELOPMENT THEORY
TO DESIGN APPROPRIATE PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
FOR PRACTICING EDUCATORS AND THOSE ENTERING THE FIELD
AS NON –TRADITIONAL AGED STUDENTS.
Janice P. Smith, Phd.
Aaron Copland School of Music
Queens College, City University of New York
Learning to teach is a developmental process. While educators are routinely exposed to various theories for child and adolescent development, adult developmental stages are often barely touch upon in our professional training. “Teacher, know thyself!” does not seem to be important. Typical in-service conferences and in-service days provided by school systems often ignore the various adult developmental stages that their clientele may be experiencing. Conferences, graduate classes and in-service days might be more effective if stages of adult development were considered. Similarly, the pre-professional training of older students who have had other careers might need some adjusting to take into account their unique needs. It seems very likely that “one size” does not “fit all.”
Several theories of adult development could be considered, but let us consider the following possible stages of adult development and the needs of persons at these stages based on Krupp (1981):
Students – independence; needs: identity, mentor
Twenties – worker; needs: values clarification
Transitional – self oriented; needs: family issues, career commitment
Thirties – movement toward self-defined goals; needs: self improvement
Transitional forties – cooperation, powerful mental abilities
Forties – stability and satisfaction, inner peace; make good mentors
Fifties peak years of creative productivity, need: leadership roles
Sixties and onward – health is the key issue; retirement is the major transition
Additionally, consider these stages of teaching career development based on Frede (2003).
Stage one: Getting started consists of undergraduate experiences, student teaching and about the first three years of teaching. During this time it is often harder to see the big picture of teaching music because of the efforts needed to keep up with the day to day requirements of teaching. Developing workable routines often saves the day.
Stage two: Developing a teaching style. This is sometimes based on a particularly effective strategy. This paper will consider these strategies: questioners, managers, free wheelers, performers, holiday lovers, textbook or repertoire addicts and methodology addicts. This style of teaching can lead to
Stage three: My Way is the Best Way (teaching rigor mortis), a particular danger for veteran teachers. Ideally, we all would make it to
Stage four: Adapt, Adopt, and Create where the curriculum is a framework, and a guide. These professionals can work in many differing situations and adjust as needed. This paper will also suggest some appropriate ways of providing professional development at each of these levels.
If we are truly interested in retaining music educators in the profession and in increasing their professionalism as they develop, we need to think in terms of how to best meet the needs of people at different stages of their careers and of their lives. We need to make certain that those in charge of teacher development consider a wide range of needs and developmental levels when planning for professional growth.
Frede, Ellen. (2003). “How Teachers Grow: Four Stages”. High/Scope Resources (Spring). pp. 21 -22 .Ypsilanti, MI: High Scope Press.
Krupp, Judy-Arin. (1981). Adult Development: Implications for Staff
Development. Published by Adult Development & Learning (out of
print). ISBN: 0961324511