Kelly, West Dallas

Kelly is majoring in piano performance and pedagogy at Meadows School of the Arts. For summer 2011, she was named a Maguire & Irby Family Foundation Public Service Summer Intern by the Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics & Public Responsibility at SMU. Kelly is interning at West Dallas Community School, where she is teaching piano to students in first through fourth grades.

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Learning from my students

My second week at WDCS seemed smoother than my first week. I think that just knowing what to expect helped me to anticipate my students’ needs more accurately and to pace myself better.

On Friday I led the first set of group classes, in which I used games and drills to reinforce and build on concepts that the students learned in their lessons. Each of the five groups of four students had its own unique dynamic.

One of the challenges of these groups is the different ages of the students participating. Some of the classes have 1st and 3rd graders; others have 2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders; and one of my groups has a set of 4th graders and 1 kindergartner. I was a little bit concerned about this last group, particularly for the little kindergartner.

I prepped the 4th graders in this group that they would have a younger student joining the class, and I asked them to make her feel welcome and to help her out as they could. Each one of these 4th graders rose to the occasion and showed patience and a willingness to work alongside her. I was surprised, too, at how this brought the younger student’s understanding and participation to a higher level.

In our first segment of class, I played a timed flash card game with the students in which they had to identify the note value and clap and count it as fast as they could. By the end of the game, the younger student was quickly identifying note values that hadn’t even been introduced to her until that day (and which most of the other 4th graders had some experience with).

This drove home the idea that we as teachers should always shoot to bring our students to a higher standard rather than assume that they are only able to handle a lower one. I am so blessed to be teaching and learning each week from each of the students!

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