Vanguard Teaching

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Every Superteacher Needs Their Own Theme Music: A Soundtrack For You

Let me draw you a picture and you color within the lines:

Martin Scorsese wants to do a biopic on your experience in the classroom. We need a soundtrack. This is a time to “keep it 100” with yourself for the making of a kick-ass movie. Soooo…. write down a song for the following scenario:

1. Beginning of the movie – you’re stepping out the car and start walking into the school building

This serves as a twofold activity. First, reflect on your choice of music. What does your song say about your current situation? What story does it tell about your outlook in the classroom or school environment? If “Welcome to the Jungle” is your choice, do you feel that you’re Joe Clark from the movie “Lean on Me” stepping into an above-ground hell that should be firebombed twice over? Or is it Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” possibly reflecting a teacher who just needs to get through the day – the less eventful, the better? Are you the Bryan Adams-type teacher who dedicates his/her heart and soul to the class and students?

For me, Muddy Waters’

definitely fits. The song speaks Swaghili and says that if you don’t believe that you’re the (wo)man, then the students will not buy what you’re selling. And add the fact that I’ve always looked like a Doogie Howser teacher (I’ve looked 16 years old for the past 16 years), so my Napoleon complex plays into this. I’m stepping out a candy-apple red ‘67 El Dorado in a three-piece suit with a bowtie in slow-mo with this joint on. Picture me rolling. But the song and many others I play on my phone (or in my head) keep me balanced, motivated and on an even keel.

At American sporting events such as baseball, basketball, and football, entrance music has been gaining popularity for a while. It makes sense: fans stay entertained and get a reason to dance and for players they may get inspired (especially if it’s like a wakout song of their choice). Teachers, we need walkout music.

How about this: Have another teacher look at the song and the scenario you chose for yourself and ask them what it says about you in the school environment. As I said, you must keep it real with yourself. You may be saying, “Well, it depends on the day of the week, what time of the year, the weather, blah, blah, blah!” Fair question, because if I asked you to make a soundtrack for your relationship with your significant other, the songs may vary based on the context. Let’s just focus on the most important factor – students’ learning and well-being. What factors from your students change your soundtrack? Write down songs for the following situations:

1. You’re in THE ZONE in the classroom and everything is clicking on all cylinders and even the misfits are engaged.


2. Tired and doubting your effectiveness in class. Thinking of throwing in the towel.


3. Walking the hallways on the first day of school.


4. Class is way too rowdy.


5. A student confides in you and needs your honest help and opinion.

Write down your songs for these scenarios and laugh with another teacher.

6. Principal calls you to the office over the intercom during school hours.


7. Payday.


8. During a professional development session.

My song choice for #8, professional development, would be the same if I had to listen to Bob Dole speeches on repeat while dusting the house with a hand brush and a Leave It to Beaver marathon running in the background. Please, “Black hole sun, won’t you come and wash away the rain”? I know I’m not the only one who feels that way about so-called professional development sessions – 99 percent of them are useless. All I’m saying is, don’t have any cyanide or sharp objects around any of these classes.

Every superteacher needs their own theme music. Create yourself a good mixtape that will lace a school soundtrack that can help lead you to success…or at least to sanity. Hey, you may even make a connection with a colleague or student who can groove to the same song for the same reason.

What’s your teaching soundtrack?  #VanguardTeachingSoundtrack

Project Ideas for Teachers, Students, and Professional Development Leaders

  1. Make a mixtape Compile a list of songs for your own playlist or soundtrack. It can be thematic or a mix CD to represent a variety of emotions you have at school. Use it to carry you through rough stretches and cheerlead you to success.
  2. Murals For professional development Have teachers collaborate in groups to make a group mixtape. Make murals with pictures and lyrics representing the songs.
  3. Make a Vine Create a Vine that shows a certain positive aspect of your school with the music in the background. If you don’t know how to do this, more than likely 90 percent of your students will know how to help you.

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This entry was posted on July 25, 2015 by in Tips For Teachers and tagged , , , , , , , , .

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