Music Ed Mentor Podcast #039: Empowering Your Students

Music Ed Mentor Podcast #039: Empowering Your Students

While I understand that “Empowerment” can mean many different things to many different people, let me assure you this is a really great episode; so great I saved it for last – it was the final podcast we recorded in 2018.

Beyond simply engaging students, empowerment takes things one step further. In the traditional classroom, the teacher picks out the music, does the score study, rehearses the group, and conducts the performance. The teacher makes most of the big decisions. Shifting decision making to students truly empowers them. They get more out of the experience – and that’s why we do this.

Joining me are not one, but two wonderful guests: Theresa Ducassoux teaches fourth- and fifth-grade band and orchestra in Arlington, VA. Kathryn Finch teaches K-5 general music in Northbrook, IL.  Together they have more than 36 years of teaching experience and some great insight into the empowerment process.

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Key Takeaways

  • Unlike sticker charts, grades, and incentives, promoting intrinsic motivation provides students with the purpose, autonomy, and mastery required to excel on their own.
  • Giving kids choice doesn’t mean a free-for-all, we can still guide their choices.
  • Simply asking an otherwise difficult student to complete a task, like handing out music, can give them some vital ownership of what goes on in the classroom.

Okay, How Do I Start?

As you become inspired to explore empowering your students, you’ll welcome specific examples. To help, we’ve compiled a list of 17 ways to empower your students.

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Additional Resources

Elisa Janson Jones

Elisa Janson Jones specializes in helping music educators build, grow, and manage thriving school music programs. With an MBA alongside her degree in music, she is also a coach and consultant to small businesses and nonprofits around the country, and serves as the conductor of her local community band. She has been teaching music for nearly 20 years and currently holds the prestigious position of elementary music teacher at a private K-8 Catholic School in Grand Junction, Colorado. Elisa was a top presenter at the NAfME National Conference in 2017 and will be presenting at state conferences in 2018. She is the founder of the International Music Education Summit and the author of The Music Educator’s Guide to Thrive.

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