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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My first piano students

I just finished my first week at West Dallas Community School as a summer intern through the Maguire & Irby Family Foundation. It has been an exciting week!

I met 18 of the 20 students whom I will be teaching, and I am slightly overwhelmed at the challenge of getting all of their names and faces straight. The thing that has impacted me the most this week is how eager each of these students is to learn and how willing they are to try something new.

One student in particular, Angell, brought a smile to my face. She was having difficulty understanding a concept that I was trying to teach her; we repeated (and repeated and repeated!) an exercise to help drive this concept home, but she could not perform the exercise consistently right. I thought for sure that she would become frustrated and get tired of it (and I myself was starting to get frustrated), but after each mistake she just laughed and put her nose right back to the grindstone to try again. This was a good lesson for me, not only in perservering (cheerfully!) but in flexibility.

I tried another approach of teaching the same concept and found that her problem wasn’t a lack of rhythm but merely an inability to understand the concept the same way that I understand it best. She responded very well to this new approach and right away was able to show an understanding of this concept. I successfully used this other approach with several of my other students as well and now have an effective tool in my teaching arsenal.

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