LMH History Teacher, Mr. Ulloa shares his reflections from his Peer-to-Peer Observations in Mrs. Hostetler’s Campus Chorale class.
Marcy Hostetler – Campus Chorale Class Observations
The reputation of the choral programs at Lancaster Mennonite is sparkling. Every time I have seen our singing groups perform, I’m left deeply impressed, along with the rest of the audience. The students in our music programs work hard and deserve a lot of credit for the remarkable quality of their performances, but they need leadership, guidance and inspiration. That’s where Marcy Hostetler comes in.
On Monday and Tuesday of last week, I observed Marcy’s 7th period Campus Chorale class. This class has about 40 students. Highly talented and highly enthusiastic, I immediately saw these students’ excitement about getting to 7th period as they entered the room.
Below, I describe three major takeaways from my observations of Marcy’s classes. I am thankful for her willingness to open up her room to my presence.
Marcy’s classroom is full of energy! And oftentimes, school is not. I almost felt like I left school for a period while visiting Marcy’s room. In our post-observation discussion, Marcy and I discussed the importance of mobility; both of the teacher and of the students.
Marcy began both class periods with focus exercises that revolved around breathing, group interaction and energy building. The students were clearly used to these and enjoyed them! In the two classes I observed, I witnessed no less than 7 different exercises that included running around the room in a twelve count and stopping at a four count “rest”, students dancing in pairs during a vocal warm up, and some sort of singing of the word “hippopotamus”. The students’ movement, along with Marcy’s modeling of movement around the space of the classroom, built a special and exciting energy.
Simultaneous focus on individual and group
In a room with 40 students and a lot of action, Marcy demonstrated a keen ability to give attention to individual students, whether through encouraging students who were doing particularly well or calling for adjustments from singers when necessary, while simultaneously giving direction and focus to the whole group. Impressive!
Marcy has a connection with her students. They trust her. I believe that gaining students’ trust requires a deep care for the students (which they are sharp at perceiving) and for the products they are playing a role in building. Marcy cares about her students and what they are doing in her class. They can feel that, and therefore engage with her. This then eases the challenge of keeping an eye on individuals and the group at the same time because, indeed, they’re all engaged in the same thing.
In Marcy’s class, expectations were high, and they were also clearly communicated. She expects students to check email regularly and respond to her communications. She has a pattern for how class should begin. She demands to have eyes on her. She has key words and phrases that she utilizes that students respond to (“lean in”; “posture”; “give it shape”; etc.). I didn’t know exactly what these meant, but the students did! Being concise and clear – one of my biggest goals as a teacher.
Students are bound to feel more comfort, encouragement and safety to try new things if they understand what the teacher expects and are given a clear plan of how to get there. I saw this exemplified in Campus Chorale.
We all teach different subjects and disciplines, but we all share the same art of teaching. Though I don’t teach music, I learned a lot from this observation and am left pondering how I can encourage more energy-building in my classroom through movement and look for ways to continue to build trust with students.
Thank you again, Marcy, for all you do for your students!