This is the third post in a five-part series from "In the Middle With Mr D"
"Why Won't My Middle School Choir Sing?"
Here is Reason #3
We don't publicly celebrate and recognize the positive things our students are doing.
All it takes is a couple of seconds to acknowledge our singers. They just want to be noticed, and when you do notice them, all of the children around them work harder so they, too, might be recognized.
1) "I love your posture Charley. Everyone turn to page 3, measure 24."
2) "Sara! Your mouth position on that 'ah' vowel is nice and tall! Everyone, pull out the next song on the repertoire list for today."
3) "Row three sopranos, you are creating overtones back there! It's stunning! Everyone go back to measure 12 and sing it staccato to correct the rhythm."
It’s not about playing favorites. It’s about quick, positive acknowledgement that lets the kids know that you notice how hard they are working.
The minute I make comments like these to my students, the children I acknowledge feel great, and they kids around them start working on the item I’ve just acknowledged in their peer.
It must be quick and clear. We must make sure every student hears it. We must keep the lesson moving.
Fewer words = More effective results.
That rule applies whether we are praising or correcting our middle school students. Nothing sucks the life force out of a middle school classroom and makes our students want to sing LESS than a long “lecture” and/or negative feedback on what the children should be doing.
"2nd period was able to master this content in 10 minutes. Why is it taking you 20 minutes?"
The students don't care that it's taking them longer than the previous class. If it's taking longer, it's our fault. It could mean that we haven't realized how to reach this specific group of children as well. It is also highly possible that one particular group isn't as capable as the other. That's ok too. Whatever the reason is that these children are learning at a slower pace, it doesn't make a middle school beginner want to sing if we are comparing them negatively to another group or criticizing them in some other way.
It's our job to take each group of our singers as far as they can go, and to keep the journey as positive as we can.
When we praise what our choir students are doing well, the energy snowballs.
Singing comes from deep inside the souls. We've got to do everything we can to keep our little middle school beginner's spirits filled with light.
All of the philosophies that have worked for me are reflected in the program I created called S-Cubed: Successful Sight Singing for Middle School Teachers and Their Students.
Click here to go to Reason #4!