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Professional Development: Fostering a School Environment that Supports Music Education

ETM kicked off the year with a whirlwind of professional development workshops for classroom teachers at its partner schools.  These fall sessions encouraged classroom teachers to use their music teacher as a resource and highlighted the ways in which music can reinforce the concepts and skills they are implementing in the classroom.  Building support for ETM’s programs and cultivating an appreciation for the arts within a school’s community is a core element of ETM’s effort to make its programs sustainable.

This fall, ETM’s Professional Development and Consulting Specialist Chris Marolf has been traveling to speak with cluster and classroom teachers at ETM partner schools. Marolf introduced the merits of ETM’s music program, outlining our core belief that music should be taught both as a subject in its own right and also as a means of supporting learning in other academic areas.  He emphasized ETM’s dedication to serving every student and supporting the school’s academic goals.

He encouraged classroom teachers to brainstorm moments of potential collaboration with their music teachers.  He suggested that classroom teachers share their “academic language” with the music instructor, so that he or she can address students in the same way.  Providing this continuity of vocabulary will strengthen the instruction, and help reiterate the transferable cognitive skills that both the classroom teachers and music teachers aim to instill in students.

Marolf recommended that classroom teachers communicate with music teachers not only with regard to thematic subjects but also with regard to higher-level thinking skills.  While teachers can assign songs that articulate particular knowledge or basic facts (such as the seasons, geography or historical characters), music teachers can also use instruction to help children recognize forms and patterns, compare and contrast, or understand narrative structure.

Marolf showed a slideshow of examples of past successful instances of collaboration in order to help teachers understand the variety of ways their music teacher can support academic concepts.  Because ETM’s approach to music education supports overall learning by enhancing students’ abilities to make connections, Marolf encouraged teachers to share the critical thinking skills that will enrich children’s deeper development.

ETM’s professional development will continue as the year progresses.  Marolf shared, “In addition to our regularly scheduled PD, we will be customizing some professional development sessions to fit the specific needs of schools.”  ETM looks forward to strengthening its relationships with partner school classroom teachers, and will offer more professional development sessions in the winter and spring.

Photograph courtesy of Claire Stefani.