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ETM Academy: Building a Community of Music Teachers

by ETM Staff

Each summer, our ETM Academy provides two weeks of professional development (PD) for all of our new and returning music teachers. New York City’s Department of Education offers limited PD for music educators, so for many of our teachers, ETM Academy is the most important training they receive all year.

Drawing from last year’s feedback and with guidance from an advisory group of veteran ETM music teachers, ETM’s program team organized the most recent training a little bit differently. This year’s Academy had two important themes: building teacher community, and inclusion in the classroom.

The Academy offered three workshops reflecting these two themes. The first, led by Queens College professor Esther Harris, explored racism in music history, a topic that is especially resonant since most ETM teachers work in marginalized communities where some classical repertoire may not feel relevant or welcoming.

Another workshop was led by Dr. Cathy Benedict, Associate Professor of Music Education at New York University. Dr. Benedict discussed cultural responsiveness and the ways that culture influences how people learn, which prompted the teachers to reflect on how to connect with students who come from a variety of cultures, and how to be thoughtful of the very music they use to teach their music lessons.

The third workshop, led by music educator, author, and clinician Alice Hammel, focused on working with students with special needs, from developmental challenges to physical handicaps. “My main takeaway from this workshop,” shared first-year ETM teacher Becks Butler, “is: don’t discount your students if they’re having trouble. Don’t look at what they can’t do; look at what they can do, and celebrate that.”

Music teachers were offered additional electives throughout ETM Academy. While new teachers were encouraged to focus on classroom management, returning teachers had more choices, empowering them to decide how their time was best spent and what training would be most valuable.

Perhaps as important as the workshops and lessons, ETM Academy included a lot of time for teacher team building and socializing in an effort to encourage community-building. Because the teachers face so many of the same challenges in the classroom, making sure they see one another as resources is critical. “ETM Academy really does build a community of music teachers,” said returning ETM teacher Rose Poggio. “I definitely feel the impact. Just the support—that alone is priceless!”

ETM Academy is just a part of our overarching training. We offer professional development and mentoring all year round. If you would like to learn more about how to support our teachers, please visit us online at ETMonline.org.

Without the support of our community, we wouldn’t have been able to offer our teachers the support they need to be incredible educators in our 70 partner schools, and reach 36,000 students in NYC.

Special thanks to The Music Man Foundation, The Emily Davie & Joseph S. Kornfeld Foundation, The Leir Foundation, and Wells Fargo for making ETM Academy possible this year.