After my first year of teaching in solitude, I decided that I couldn't go on without finding connections with other music teachers. I didn't care who. I just wanted to talk to someone who didn't give me a funny look when I brought up marching band in casual conversation. So, I turned to the internet. The concept of blogging was still in its infancy at the time, and I immediately took hold.
Suddenly I was thrown into a world full of music teachers whose experiences mirrored my own. I hadn't felt that connected since my years of training at college, and it slowly permeated other areas of my life. I began to feel more confident when approaching other teachers in my building. Eventually, my little island turned into a close-knit community. Throughout the years, I've gained many close friends, most of whom don't teach music, and some that don't teach at all.
So, if you're feeling like you're alone on an island, here are a few tips to help you connect.
#1. READ MUSIC BLOGS
I don't say this just because I'm a blogger and want you to read my posts (though that would be nice). I say this because reading blogs was my first step to feeling connected. Reading blogs is what inspired me to start my own. Not only will you feel more connected, but your teaching will improve as you read about other teachers' ideas, brand-new music tech, and the latest research. You won't be hampered by only knowing what's going on in your region of the country. Click on the badge below to see some of the blogs I follow.
|BLOGS I FOLLOW|
#2. ATTEND CONFERENCES
This seems obvious, but remains an important step in connecting with other music teachers. Attending conferences can be difficult when the school system you work for won't pay for the fee, or in my situation, won't allow you to take a professional day in order to go (even though I was willing to pay all the expenses). However, it's important to make it a priority, every year, to attend either a local, state, or national conference. I always leave conferences feeling inspired to take on new challenges and experiment with new methods.
|Via Music is Elementary|
#3. BE A PINNER
I still remember the day that I was invited to join Pinterest (when it first started, you had to be invited by someone who was already a member). Since then, it's become the first site I visit when looking for organization tips or do-it-yourself projects for the classroom. Most of the amazing blogs I read, I first discovered on Pinterest. It's more than just crafts now-a-days. It's like a teacher's second (or third) home. Click on the picture below to join a collaborative board and see what other music teachers are pinning.
|Via The Music Mix Collaborative Pinterest Board|
This one, I'll admit, is still fairly new to me. However, I've been amazed by the music education articles and hilarious things that have been tweeted by fellow music teachers from around the world. One thing to note though, be careful when choosing your settings for social media. Often times there will be an option to send an automatic tweet every time you pin something on Pinterest or post on Facebook. While this can be a timesaver, it can also be really annoying to see twenty identical tweets from the same person, simply because they weren't aware of their settings.
#5. SEND ME AN EMAIL
If you feel still feel like you're alone on an island, send me an email (click the envelope at the top, right-hand corner of my blog). Maybe we can chat about music education, or the struggles of classroom management, or your obsession with coffee. Whatever it might be, just know that you're not alone.