It’s hard to believe my Schweitzer Fellowship year has come to a close. While I am still working with Susan Bailis for another few weeks, I have effectively completed my service commitment and am now working to tie up loose ends with the project (such as creating a sustainability plan for next year and meeting with site and faculty mentors about my experience).
Looking back, I think that all things considered the project has been successful. I have learned a big lesson about limits, and I understand that I have a point of diminishing returns when I commit to too many projects and activities at one time. That said, I have really enjoyed my work with the residents at Susan Bailis.
I think the best learning experience has been the Friday morning music appreciation and history workshop. I wrote on my last blog about the challenges of preparation with this activity, which has continued to be present for me. At the same time I have clued into a concept introduced to me by Eric Booth in The Music Teaching Artist’s Bible, which I read in the fall semester of 2011, which is that of the entry point. An entry point for a music educator is simply the identification of what excites and interests me about the topics I am presenting. I think I have done this instinctually anyway, but on days when I feel especially engaged with an idea or line of questioning, I get even more positive feedback from the residents.
Further, I feel like this is such an important takeway for me for this project because I feel that the successes I have encountered with this fellowship have given me extra confidence to really share more of myself as a teacher. I feel like I have been a lot more vulnerable and openly curious with this fellowship as well as in my other teaching work, and it seems to have opened up a dialogue between students and myself that wasn’t there before. I’m still working on finding the right balance in certain situations, but regardless that has been a huge learning point for me.
In my final reflections for the Schweitzer Fellowship organization, I also commented on the value of just showing up. Having committed to a significant number of service hours at the beginning of the year, I didn’t have a choice about quitting even when I felt things weren’t going well. I’m glad I just kept showing up and trying new things until something worked. It made the concept of failure feel less scary. Again I think I gained some confidence in my ability to learn and adjust. I realized I don’t have to know everything, I just need to be open to the learning dialogue that is taking place between myself and my students (or residents, or audience).
Thanks for reading my blog. I hope you found something interesting to take away!