INTASC Standard #2

Knowledge of Human Development and Learning

The teacher understands how children learn and develop, and can provide learning opportunities that support their intellectual, social, and personal development.

[Headings for INTASC standards are taken from - Campbell, D.M. et al.  (1997).  How to develop a professional portfolio:  A manual for teachers.  Boston: Allyn and Bacon.]

The understanding of the content of this INTASC standard is crucial to connecting with students and helping them to actually learn and become better young people. This requires not only a classroom understanding of child and educational psychology, but a natural ability to feel how students are doing and how individual students learn as compared to others. Now that I have an understanding of how students learn best, I must be able to teach them in ways that will help them be scholastically successful as well as help them to develop socially and personally. Some ways to help support the students' social development would be to involve them in partner/group work that has them working with people who they can get along with or, in some cases, will challenge them to learn to deal with personality conflict. Finally, I must assist the students in their personal development. Personal development includes their growth as humans, their ability to think critically, and their ability to interact well with others, which starts with personal attitudes. I can foster development in these areas by meeting the students where they are and treating them as people, not "just students." Through my example, also, they can learn how to act. I must think of treating them as if they were my own children; with that mentality, I will want to help develop them into quality young people.

Musically speaking, rhythmic and tonal abilities must be developed, just like phonation, walking, and other common abilities. When young, the mere complexity of most rhythms are just too much for children's brains to compute. As a teacher, I will have to be aware of how children learn. I should not give first-graders rhythms that include syncopated 16th notes, for example. Also, children cannot multi-task as well as adults; I should not ask my young students to clap one rhythm while saying another. Tonally, children can recognize and identify changes in pitch fairly early. A good exercise to discover and refine this ability is to play two pitches and have the students identify the higher (or lower) of the two. Eventually, the students will be able to sing their own pitches higher and lower than a given pitch, as directed by me as their teacher; then, once notation has been taught, the students will be able to identify and sing specific pitches, from written music.

Other factors in learning theories include children's attention spans and ability to process information, whether specifically musical in nature or not. For example, younger children will simply not be able to listen to a lecture for 10 (or perhaps even 5!) minutes at a time; the students need to be actively involved in the learning. This actually applies really well to music; being involved in the learning process is the always the best way to learn music, regardless of the learner's age. Lastly, concepts and instructions must be simple. As a teacher, I cannot expect my students, especially those in the first and second grades, to take what we did in class and, by themselves, apply it to further assignments and applications. I must guide them through activities such as this, if they are to be successful. I want to always set high expectations for my students - this is the only way they will truly succeed. However, I must set realistic and obtainable goals.

The following artifacts show my growth in this area over the course of the last four years. First, the microteaching shows a specific example of how I have learned to teach a group I was not otherwise comfortable with - elementary school children in a general music classroom setting. Second, the journal article I reviewed in MusEd 355 is invaluable. Dr. Ester's forthcoming book Sound Connections is a terrific tool in helping to understand not only various methodologies for teaching music, but also for understanding the reasons (psychological as well as physiological) why certain methods work better than others.

Microteaching 2 (Group Ostinato Teaching) from MusEd 150

Journal Entry (Sound Connections) from MusEd 355

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