Jun 21, 2015

Growing Programs with Administrative Support

  • Step 1 – Make a Plan, how can what you’re doing benefit the entire school/district 
  • Step 2 – Create Small Successes, make them notice you/recognize your abilities 
  • Step 3 – Share the Plan, get feedback, follow through with next steps 
  • Step 4 – Keep them updated on what their support/help has done for your program 

Step 1 – Make a Plan

Figure out what your strengths and weaknesses are. Discuss these with your peers. Get feedback on what has helped them become more successful in those areas. -Make a plan of action that outlines your goals, big and small. Include reasons you have those goals and include challenges you face in achieving them. These goals may change, so update regularly. -Since you’re planning on sharing this plan with your administrators, you need to help them understand what it is you need, why you need it, and how it benefits them. They don’t always know what you do or why it’s important.

Step 2 – Create Small Successes

Choose some small, easily attainable goals and start checking them off your list. Be as successful as you can possibly be all by yourself. These will be mostly “in class” goals related to musicianship and classroom management. (Attend your district choral festival, fundraise enough money to purchase a class set of sheet music, keep your students in their assigned spots for an entire class period, have students successfully perform a sight reading example, whatever it is that’s important to you.) Once your successes are rolling in, adjust your list of goals. If you really want to be thorough, keep track of the goals you have achieved. That way, years down the road, you can look at this tangible list and see how far you’ve come. Add new goals as you discover them.

Step 3 – Share the Plan

Share your list of goals and successes with your administrators. Find out your administrators’ goals for your program. Add them to your list. -Get feedback and adjust. Take the comments given and use them to reorganize and reprioritize your goals. -Follow through with the next steps. Now that your administrators know what you need, they can share with you what they’re willing and able to help with. Use their help. If something they suggest doesn’t work for you and your program, explain why and present other options. Disagreements will happen. You must be prepared to work together to find a solution that works for everyone.

Step 4 – Keep Them Updated

Share successes you’ve had because of their support. Let them know they are appreciated. Share with them the data that shows growth in your program.
  • Continue to work with them to achieve goals together. If they don’t know what you need, they can’t help you. Keep the lines of communication open. 
  • Things to consider: If you think you’ve reached all your goals, reevaluate what success means to you. 
  • Your measures of success are specific to you. What works for you may not work for others and what works for others may not work for you.
  • Just because one is performing at a Superior level at festivals doesn’t necessarily make one “superior”. Students should be performing music that is challenging to them. It should fit their range and it should be accessible. If range is limiting, find something that challenges them in rhythm, harmony, phrasing, etc. 
  • Are you serving your community? Are you sharing your program with others? You may have a great thing going, but if you don’t share it, who will benefit? 
  • Think big. Your students may sound great, but what more can you do for them? Give them experiences they will remember for a lifetime. Make an impact on their lives and how they relate to others through their art. Reach out to other programs in the area. Collaborate. Make music friends and connections. Bring in professionals in your area to give input or a fresh outlook. 
  • Use your resources. If your administrators can’t help you with your goals, get them to suggest ideas. Ask your district supervisor for resources. Ask your students’ parents for resources. People are willing to help you if you just ask.
Moving forward,
Emily Frizzell, a conductor and soprano, is Director of Choirs at White Station Middle School in Memphis, TN.  She earned the Master’s in Music Education and the bachelor’s degree in Music Education from The University of Southern Mississippi. Her responsibilities at White Station Middle school currently include teaching the 6th Grade Choir, Chorale, Young Men’s Choir, and Young Women’s Choirs, totaling nearly 250 students each day.  In addition, Mrs. Frizzell teaches private voice lessons. In her third and fourth years teaching, Mrs. Frizzell was awarded TEM 5 Professional Status in Memphis City Schools.  Her choirs have received only Superior Plus, Superior, and Excellent ratings at local and national festivals in each of her four years teaching.  She is currently serving as Junior High Choral Festival Co-Chair for the 2013-14 school year. She also served as a member of the Memphis City Schools Teacher Field Test Group and Development Team, which developed the pilot evaluation method for Tennessee music teachers. Currently, she is also serving as a Peer Evaluator of this new evaluation method. In 2013, she was awarded the Outstanding Young Music Educator award by the Tennessee Music Education Association.

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