A few weeks ago, I completed the second major assignment for MHST 537 (Teaching Music History): Substitute teach (or “guest lecture”) for another professor at NEC; videotape your teaching and analyze it. I had the good fortune to substitute for Larry Scripp; he had to travel out of town for the latter half of his MIE 501 (Intro to MIE), so I stepped in.
The agenda I set forth for my teaching was based on an assignment Larry wanted me to give to the class: to get his students familiarized with the CMIE NewsBlog, as readers and potential writers. I worked backwards from his assignment to plan what basic learning outcomes I hoped my students would achieveâ€”an understanding for what makes NewsBlog writers’ postings different from the “rants” that are commonly associated with blogging; a rationale for organizing the kinds of ideas and documentation that get shared on the NewsBlog; and a sense of directionâ€”where, beyond the NewsBlog or MIE program, does this kind of documentation and writing have use and purpose?
Where’s the Video Documentation?
Although I am not able to post my video of teaching here, due to length and filesize, any readers of the NewsBlog who are interested should read the transcription file (posted as a PDF here). In fact, anyone who reads the transcription file will notice that parts of it are highlighted and color-coded; this is a technique for analysis that we encourage MIE students to undertake.
Transcribing, Coding, and Analysis
The process I have engaged myself inâ€”of videotaping my teaching, watching it,Â transcribing it, coding it for objectivity, and finally analyzing and reflecting on it is oneÂ that I have observed as being useful for emerging and experienced teachers alike. It is aÂ method that we showcased and published in the Journal for Music-In-Education (Scripp,Â Keppel, Wong, eds.), and that we encourage throughout the MIE department. Its valueÂ lies in the fact that words do not lie, and it is often easier to quickly see the â€˜big pictureâ€™Â when scanning transcripts than from sitting and watching a videotape. The benefits ofÂ watching the videotape, and doing oneâ€™s own transcription from that tape, are obvious:Â Body language, tone of voice, eye contact, movement, and other physicalities of teachingÂ are easily recognizable. From watching my own tape, I was surprised to learn that myÂ teaching voice was not as loud or enunciable as I thought it had been. I suppose that isÂ something to continue to work on. I didnâ€™t do an â€˜exact wordâ€™ transcript here, but what IÂ learned from the tape is that there were multiple times that I had to re-phrase questions,Â transitions, and other verbiage. I already knew from past experiences that off-the-cuffÂ presentation is not my strong suit; the introductory Ten-Minute Presentation we did at theÂ beginning of Teaching Music History is testament to that (I scripted that presentation andÂ practically read it). Because of the limited amount of time I had to prepare this teachingÂ session, scripting nor rehearsing were barely possible, but I did have to time to make aÂ short Powerpoint presentation that I used as an outline of sorts.
Connection to MHST 537 course
Although the class session I taught is not a Music History course, I believe that many ofÂ the same principles that we have been studying in Anne Hallmarkâ€™s MHST 537Â Teaching Music History course still apply. The past several weeks have seen discussionsÂ in class based on readings that articulate how college classrooms are run; the pitfalls andÂ mistakes of â€˜wet behind the earsâ€™ teachers; ways to engage students in discussion; andÂ organizational tips for lecturers, among other things. These readings are balanced withÂ seminar-style class sessions moderated by Hallmark, which in and of themselves serve asÂ models for successful teaching in a graduate setting.
As is evident in my coded transcription, I tried to incorporate some of the techniques thatÂ Hallmark and others are suggesting as worthwhile ways to engage students in discussionÂ and classroom learning. Granted, there was less discussion than I would have liked, andÂ the majority of communication was responsorial, but I think a good effort was made.
The teaching session was also an opportunity for me to go into a situation not as wellÂ rehearsed or prepared as I usually would be. There is, as Warren Senders or Larry mightÂ say, a certain amount of improvisation that that is a part of any teaching experience, andÂ that a seasoned teacher would need to be comfortable with; things hardly ever go â€˜asÂ planned.â€™
Finally, I did make it to the end-point Larry projected for me: A MIE NewsBlog bloggingÂ assignment that students would need to complete, and connect, to the knowledge theyâ€™veÂ so far acquired on documentation, for inclusion in their process portfolios.