New Decade-Reflections on my S-Cubed Journey

On the East Coast of the USA, we are currently 8 hours away from the new decade.

It's an important moment to look back and assess what has happened in the moments that came before this one.  Since I started teaching in 1989, reflection has been an important component of my professional development journey.  From the first year I taught, I would come home and think to myself as I loved on my new Maltese puppy, Katie...

...What worked today?  What didn't?   How can I be better?

I've been thinking about writing this all year, and I am finally doing it. 

My journey with S-Cubed hasn't been the traditional one that the iconic middle school experts like Greg Gilpin and Roger Emerson took. 

I wanted that journey, but it didn't happen for me. 

In 2009, ten years ago, life presented me with the opportunity to live in Lausanne, Switzerland.  I had been teaching public school for 18 years when my husband's career path took us to this incredibly beautiful Swiss town.   I quit my job teaching at Henderson Middle School where I'd built a program from 80 chorus members to over 300 chorus members since I'd arrived in 2002. 

What am I going to do with my time?

Running a program that big had taken up most of my energy.

I had been a former USA National Champion in the sport of Aerobic Gymnastics.  After retiring from the sport in 1998, I became a coach and choreographer for other athletes who went on to win National and World titles in the sport. 

The headquarters of the FIG, the international governing body of the sport, was located in Lausanne. 

So, I thought...I'll try to become an International judge in Aerobic Gymnastics.  Two weeks after arriving in Lausanne, I took a train to Vienna, and I took the FIG judges test, and I was fortunate enough to pass this difficult test.    This was a big moment on my aerobic gymnastics journey.   While in Lausanne, I had easy access to one of the hotbeds of the sport:  Europe.  I judged events in Austria, Czech Republic and France.  I loved being around the best judges of the sport in the world.  I continued my "hobby on steroids" of judging Aerobic Gymnastics until exactly one year ago when I decided to move in new directions.    Here are my current credentials as the only International judge for the sport in the USA...valid until one year from today!

I had some of the most amazing experiences of my life through my work with this sport.

In hindsight, however, it wasn't the work with Aerobic Gymnastics that has had the most impact on this amazing opportunity I had to live in Lausanne.

When faced with this awesome opportunity to live in Lausanne, I also thought to myself...I will finally have the time to write my book about teaching Sight Singing to middle school beginners!

So, between judging competitions and studying for judges tests, I started writing my book about Sight Singing.  

My sister, who is a former music teacher, and one of my close friends helped me.

Each day, I would write a chapter and email it to them.

They would write me back with feedback.

I reached out to music colleagues to see if they knew anyone I could send my manuscript to in order to have the chance to get it published.  

They were all generous with their contacts.  I reached out to the best in the industry.

They were gracious and looked at my material.  We traded emails for about 2 years, but at the end of it all, what I'd put together wasn't the right fit.

In July of 2010, I returned to the USA and was lucky enough, in the middle of the Great Recession, to get a job back at the same school from which I'd resigned and where I still teach today.  

Blessings counted for sure... 

In the fall of 2012, my husband saw an article in a business magazine about a teacher who had success selling her lesson plans through Teachers Pay Teachers.  He said...this might finally be your path.

In the summer of 2013, I finally had time during the summer to look at the site to see if I thought I could figure out a way to make my work fit this site.  I downloaded some free lessons.  Most of them were cute and immediately useable lessons for K-3 teachers who were in a pinch for a lesson to teach that very day.  

The more expensive lessons were $1-$3.

I thought to myself...ok...this could work.

I could put my ideas in Power Points with YouTube video examples of me teaching the same lessons to my actual students "live".  And maybe I could include video teaching tips too!  

I'd always wanted to get into other teacher's classroom and watched them teach...and pick their brains about it too!  

This was going to be what I had always wanted when I started teaching.  

The only problem was that I'd never created a power point in my life.

Ok....the google.  I'll figure it out.  

My power points were awful.

But my heart was in the right place...let me keep going.

Week by week...hour by hour...I set up my tripod in the corner of my classroom and took video of me teaching my sight singing lessons to my students with my phone.  I came home every day exhausted but energized and uploaded the videos to my YouTube Channel while doing my best to create user-friendly power points with clickable YouTube links for the teachers who might find them on TpT.  

I sold each lesson for $3.

By December of 2013, I was about half way done creating Level One of the program, and I'd made $287.

...and I was tired.

But, I kept going.  

I finished Level One in March 2014, and I bundled it so that teachers could buy the program all at once at a discount.  After all, it was a curriculum.  Not many teachers were selling entire curriculum on TpT at that time.  I even got advice from one experienced and successful TpT seller that this would not be my venue.  

...But with the curriculum bundles, it started to change.  

Teachers gave me tremendous feedback during this entire process.  Some of it was difficult to read, but it was important and it was true.  With each bit of feedback, I made changes and tried to improve my program.

Then, in August of 2015, I decided that I needed to share Level Two.

Since that time, I've updated the product to make it better and more user friendly.  I've formed relationships with Sight Reading Factory (promo code S-Cubed at purchase point), Music Prodigy
and JW Pepper.

It all started right here...on a mountain in Lausanne...

I would hike.

...and reflect on my teaching...

What worked?

What didn't...

And today, on the final day of 2019...exactly ten years from when I started putting this curriculum onto paper...I want to say thank you...and to let you know how grateful I am.  I want to encourage you to follow the dreams and goals you've had and make them a reality for 2020 and beyond.  

Hard work pays off...especially when it comes from the heart.  

Thank you for using the program.  Thank you for your feedback on it.   Thank you for sharing news of it with the teachers you are in contact with who can benefit from something like S-Cubed.   I will continue to make it better for you because I am a public school teacher, and I've been one for 28 years.  I know how hard you work because I do it too.  

Wishing you the best in this new year and this new decade.


Mr D