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Saturday, April 9, 2011

Leaving Your Comfort Zone

Just a quick post to alert you to a fabulous project currently in progress in Judy Herrington's 5th grade music classes. For several years, Judy has used an extremely expensive piece of software for a music composition unit. Because of the prohibitive costs of upgrading this software, for which we only have 5 licenses (and the lack of equipment on which to install it for her), she has been using a very old version on very old computers. NO MORE! Taking a tremendous leap of faith, Judy let us help her find a FREE piece of software (MuseScore), available online for any student who wants to download it and practice at home. We installed it on an entire lab full of computers, and coordinated with the 5th grade teachers a schedule that allows her to keep these laptops in her classroom for the three weeks she is teaching the unit. Judy and I were both a little nervous about how it would actually go, as everything about this experiment (except the original lesson plan to teach musical composition) was new.  I ran into Judy at lunch on the very first day, and though I don't think I've ever seen her without a sparkle in her eye, she was positively radiant with enthusiasm and energy. Did everything go perfectly? Absolutely not. Did she know exactly what to do, what would happen, how the kids would handle the new software? Nope. Judy stepped well out of her comfort zone, but was quickly rewarded with a collaborative classroom environment where everyone agreed to teach each other. If kids (or the teacher) had a question, they asked. If a student (or the teacher) found the answer to a question, they added a post-it to a giant board in the room so all could benefit. They are on a learning journey together.

Huge thanks to Judy for letting me share this story. :)

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