I am a percussion teacher, and I instruct classes of various sizes in a range of drumming techniques. My students a very diverse in terms of ages and backgrounds, and my classes can include up to twelve students. Some classes focus on group forms of percussion, such as drumming circles, which require skills for both individual and group drumming.
My teaching gradually evolved from my own practice in percussion and music. While I was not formally trained in teaching, as I work with more students, I am quickly developing a deeper understanding of the importance of teaching theories, curriculum planning, and proper assessment.
In this teaching portfolio I aim to first, summarize the feedback I have regarding my lesson planning presentation of material. Over the course of preparing this portfolio I have researched additional teaching and assessment methods, and I will outlined my preferred approaches. Finally, I will summarize my goals and plans to implement these methods into my classes over the upcoming semester.
Observation and Assessment Feedback
The most recent observations and evaluations of my teaching practices were conducted during a seven-week course I instructed at NSCM (?). The assessor's observations and comments were very consistent with my own view of my teaching practice. The strengths he noted were my natural rapport with students and my ability to get my students to work and perform together as a group. I do a great deal of teaching by first modeling skills and then asking the group to practice the skill. I consistently assess the students' progress by requesting individual performance of skills as well as group demonstrations.
My teaching methods normally follow a pattern in which I model a skill and students try to replicate it. I've been encouraged to call on more advanced pupils in the class to model skills or to use a class member to help model or teach the skill. This would offer some variety in the instruction and engage the students in the teaching and learning process.
As evidenced from the attached evaluation documents, my class planning and assessment methods need to be more carefully planned out, with a more detailed schedule for the lesson and specific outcomes that I am assessing.
Teaching and Learning Percussion
Through researching and reading about music teaching theory, it became clear that many music teachers struggle with some of the same difficulties I often experience in my teaching. Music is subjective and creative, and many students of music enjoy hands-on practice. Attempting to assesses or "grade" a music student's progress can be difficult because music "skills" are somewhat more subjective than some academic skills. In percussion, for example, techniques may vary greatly, and some very talented students may not always display textbook technique. Music, and drumming circles in particular, encourage self-expression and group expression, with few specific modes to measurement the artist or group's skills outside of his own enjoyment and engagement from his audience or group. In this sense it is extremely difficult to intellectualize or formalize many of the skills I teach in drumming circles.
According to music education experts such as Asmus (1999), music curriculum and teaching methods should be designed around clear, concrete skill acquisition. If the teacher first identifies the skills that will be taught, he can then design specific lessons that include instructional activities and assessments. This requires the teacher to break key skills down into small concrete steps, especially in beginner classes. The assessment of skill acquisition, however, is best completed through a mixture of teacher observation, peer evaluation, and self-evaluation. While the skills may be concrete, the mastery of a skill can be subjective, and thus it is best to use a variety of assessment tools. For example, a class that is learning to use a new, larger-sized drum may first have the skill modeled by the teacher and then individually practice the skills. The teacher can informally assess student progress through observation and then students can perform for classmates and receive peer feedback as well (Thompson & Campbell, 2008).
Booth (2009) notes that it is not uncommon for teaching artists to need additional support with curriculum development and course delivery. Unlike teacher of other subjects, we frequently develop our skill through personal practice that often becomes second nature to us or we may have a natural affinity or skill with certain instruments. Booth suggests that teaching artists face the complicated task of translating personal style, talent, and perspective into concrete, teachable curriculum.