Do Music Teachers Teach Writing?

Jan 13, 2012 by

January is a huge professional development month for me this year. I am either leading or attending some type of training almost every day this month. All of December was spent preparing for this month. Hence, the reason I have not blogged…once again. Someday I will get this into my routine!

Because I am on the giving or receiving end of lots of PD this month, that means I have many opprtunities to learn new teaching strategies and gain fresh perspectives. You would think this learning and new insight would come from the meetings I attend; however, I must say that I learn just as much when I am presenting/facilitating–from the teachers I am with.

Today I led some writing PD in a school district west of St. Louis. We spent some time examining a student writing sample and looking for evidence of the qualities of good writing. We had a discussion about the role these qualities and the writing process and writing workshop play in a writing program. We also asked ourselves what implication this has for our work with our students.

During this part of the discussion, one teacher shared a new perspective for me. I wanted to make a bigger deal of this, but since I had never met this teacher, I didn’t want to put her on the spot or embarrass her. But I still want to celebrate her attitude and perspective–even though she has no idea I am blogging about her.

This teacher teaches music to 4th- and 5th-graders. Yes, she is a music teacher, and she was talking about writing. She said (and I am paraphrasing here) that examining the qualities of good writing can be transferred to the qualities of music. Just like good writing has characteristics such as voice and sentence fluency, music also has voice and phrasing. We realized, through her observation, that we can all help reinforce the qualities of good writing–even if we are not directly responsible for the teaching of writing in our schools.

I loved her analogy, but even more, I loved her attitude. She could have chosen not to actively participate in today’s PD because “it didn’t really apply to her”, but instead she chose to find a way that it does apply to her situation and to find ways to support the teaching of writing–even as a music teacher! So today I celebrate her and all teachers who seek ways to help students make connections across curricular areas.

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