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From Remote to Real Life

From Remote to Real Life

The school year has begun, and most of our country’s students are back in a physical classroom this month, including all New York City public school students.

ETM’s music teachers, serving 55 schools in 2021-22, are thrilled to be back in the classroom with their students., However, they still have to practice a lot of safety measures to keep students safe from COVID-19, and to ensure students are emotionally safe. A year and a half of a global pandemic has left some of our 24,000 students in ETM music classes feeling traumatized, academically behind their peers, and nervous to be in school at all.

Other variables our teachers are facing: different schools have different class sizes based on their ability to socially distance their students; the CDC still recommends three feet of social distance, but not all NYC schools have the space to do so. And some schools are ready to resume choir, band, and orchestra, while others are not, because of misgivings about virus transmission.

Daniel Rader/Education Through Music

Thanks to the support of our donor community, ETM is able to provide our teachers with the training and resources to respond effectively to these challenges and provide our students a high-quality education. The biggest change ETM has implemented this year is how we approach music programming: we’ve reviewed our curricula to ensure that every note, every beat, every song, and every activity supports our students’ social-emotional learning.

What is Social-Emotional Learning?

Social-emotional learning (SEL) is the process of developing the self-awareness, self-control, and interpersonal skills that are vital for school, work, and life success. Supporting SEL in the classroom helps students develop skills like problem-solving, self-discipline, empathy, and emotion management, which help students be successful in and out of the classroom. Master teacher and good friend of ETM Dr. Scott Edgar put it best in saying, ‘SEL allows students to respond thoughtfully to situations in life, instead of react.’

We prepared our teachers this summer to use classroom activities to build community among their students. Now, our teachers know how to create engaging classroom systems and routines to best support students’ success. ETM music teachers also learned how to engage students in the creation of classroom expectations, as opposed to writing the rules and consequences and posting them on the blackboard the first day of class.

We also made sure every child feels represented in our music class, not only through the diversity of music they hear in class, but also through the books they read with their music teacher, and the posters they see on the classroom walls celebrating cultures from around the world.

While it’s not exactly back to “normal,” thanks to the support of people like you, we can continue to ensure that the students in our classroom are staying safe, feeling heard, and making music this fall.