1. Why did you become a teacher?
I’ve always loved teaching others. Every night at dinner, when I was growing up, we took turns sharing what we had learned at school that day. It was very important for us, the give and take, and mostly the love of learning. I am a high school music teacher, and I mostly hope to help my students discover some of the same passion for music that I have.
2. What’s your greatest teaching moment?
It is difficult to pick just one. What is most satisfying are the small, daily triumphs that begin to occur after the first month or so. That’s when students begin to answer questions with thoughtful, accurate responses in a content area that is completely new to them.
3. Do you have a funny teaching story?
We have a lot of fun in class, so this is another hard one to single out. From time to time, while conducting the string orchestra, I get a little exuberant and the baton goes flying out of my hand. Once I knocked over my music stand and took one or two students’ stands with it. Who thinks classical music is boring?!?
4. Best advice for parents?
Ask your kids about what they are learning in school. Ask them to teach you a little bit every day. It will demonstrate that you are interested, and that it is important. It will also get them to engage the material and think about it, which will help them learn it better.
5. What is your advice for new teachers?
Classroom management is key. Create four or five classroom expectations (e.g. do not talk when the teacher is talking; no food/drinks/gum/grooming/vulgar language at any time…) and be consistent. Whatever your consequences for these, be prepared to follow through with them every single time, even with your “best” students. And if you are waiting for them to be be attentive, wait quietly– don’t yell to get them to calm down. They get it.
6. Favorite children’s book?
Right now, it’s “The Day the Crayons Quit” by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers. It’s my favorite to read to my own kids. It’s funny and the illustrations are great!
Ian Kirk is from San Rafael, California. He received his BA in music from the University of California, Berkeley, his MM in vocal performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and his teaching credential from the University of Pacific. He just finished his 10th year of teaching choir, orchestra, and piano at Franklin High School in Stockton, California, where he lives with his wife, Amy, and his two children, Riley and Paige.
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