Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Wide-Eyed Wonder

A topic that has been on my mind recently is the wide-eyed wonder of the first year teacher.  I became a music teacher at least partly because I had great teachers who shared the joy of music with me.  I strive everyday to share that joy with my students, always wishing that it will last throughout their lifetime.  I certainly never planned for any of my students to become music teachers.  But secretly I have hoped that my classroom might inspire someone else the way I had been inspired by those teachers who were so special to me.

Well lucky me, it happened!  I had the privilege of teaching a student piano lessons from age 5, who also happened to be in a Kodaly inspired music classroom, and was eventually in my own class for a year.  This young lady decided at a pretty young age that she wanted to be an elementary music teacher.  She worked hard as a student, practiced hard as a piano player, and soaked up everything she could from all of her teachers.  That young lady is now in her first year of teaching as an elementary general music teacher.  I always felt that she was an amazing person and would be successful in whatever profession she chose.  I am deeply honored that she considers me a mentor and friend!

It would be easy after 20 years to kick back and do things the way I have always done them.  Instead I have found myself reliving my first year of teaching through her eyes!  Trying to answer her questions and offer her advice has reminded me how important it is for all of us to collaborate and share.  Discussing things with my new colleague has encouraged me to rethink some things that I may have been taking for granted and that has been very enlightening.  Truly effective teachers are aways learning new things and constantly refining their skills.  We should all try to hang on to that wide-eyed wonder and enthusiasm that we had as a first year teacher.  We're lucky that in our careers we can have a positive impact on countless students.  And who knows, maybe one of them will surprise you and become a music teacher!

As I share with a first year teacher, I find myself thinking about those "Aha moments" that we've all had.  And the times I've thought to myself "I wish someone would have told me that earlier!".  

I decided to post a couple tips and tricks for some basic classroom management that might be helpful for teachers in their first year or their thirty first.  These are "freebies" in my Teachers Pay Teachers store:  http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/C-Major-Learning

I'm lucky enough to have a Smartboard in my room and I LOVE IT!  If you have access to one there's a couple fun ways to choose groups and pick students in your classroom. 

Something else that saves me time and trouble on a daily basis is having a spreadsheet set up for each of my classes so I can quickly and easily record grades and other data.  My template for this is not quite ready yet but it will be up soon on TpT!

Take a look and maybe you will find them useful.  
Or pass them along to someone else who will.

What would your advice be for a first year teacher?
Do you have any "I wish someone would have told me that earlier!" tips that you can share?

Please feel free to comment below, and thanks for stopping by!  

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Welcome to C Major Learning!

I'm Karla Cherwinski, and the kids call me Mrs. C

I'm so excited to join the world of blogging!  If you know me, you know that technology is something I have always embraced in my classroom.  So I'm looking forward to using this technology to share and collaborate with my friends and colleagues, old and new.

A little about me...  I live in Canal Winchester, Ohio where I teach at Indian Trail Elementary.  I also grew up in Canal Winchester.  It was never the plan but I've ended up teaching in the same school district where I grew up, and sometimes with teachers that I had in school.

I graduated from high school in 1989 and my plan was to be a HS band director.  I always had a love of music from when I was young and sang around the piano with my Mom and Grandma.  And I knew I wanted to be a music teacher from the time I started thinking about what I wanted to do when I grew up!  I was very fortunate to have some amazing teachers along the way who also inspired me to be a teacher:  
Pat Locke - 1st grade; 
Sue Dowdy - elementary music; 
Jim Dowdy - 5-8th grade band director; 
Mark Barrios - high school choir and band director; 
Tim Swinehart - Columbus Youth Wind Ensemble director;  
Barbara Noronha - private piano instructor

They all helped me be the teacher that I am today!

I attended Capital University as a Music Ed major and had the continued good fortune to study with many amazing musicians! I was placed in Verena Dambrans piano studio and decided to switch from a clarinet major to piano major at the end of my freshman year.  I also studied with Lynda Hasseler, Jim Swearingen, and Sandy Mathias.

Sandy was the one that opened my eyes to the world of elementary general music and Zoltan Kodaly - I owe her so very much!  Immediately after graduation I started my studies at the Kodaly Institute at Capital where I received my Kodaly certificate in 1996.  Then I spent 3 weeks at the Kodaly Institute in Keschement, Hungary.  What was an amazing experience!  
I will definitely tell you more about Hungary in the future.

I was lucky enough to get a job right after graduating from Capital and worked at Cedar Heights Elementary in Lancaster, Ohio for 5 years.  The first few years were a bit of blur...  lesson planning, learning songs, learning students names, figuring out what worked and what didn't.  But the feeling I remember most was going home every day with a smile of my face because I was doing something I LOVED.  There was absolute joy each and every day that I walked in that building and worked with those amazing kids!  I learned so very much about education, myself, and life in general.

I began my current position in Canal Winchester schools in 1998 where I have been ever since.  I started out teaching K-1 and 5-6th grades, and over the years things have evolved to where I currently teach K-2nd grade.

While teaching is an important part of my life, my family is the center.  I married my husband, Jim, in 1996.  We have 2 wonderful children who are aspiring musicians themselves!  My parents continue to be my biggest fans and have supported me from my first piano recital to my student's many performances at Indian Trail.  I would not be here today without the support of all of my family members as well as the many friends I have made along the way.

So as I move into the third decade of my career, I still love what I do everyday and strive to learn and better my teaching.  I have met so many amazing people along the way that continue to inspire me to a better person and teacher!  It is my hope that this blog may offer up some useful ideas, thought provoking questions, and a chance for me to learn a lot from the rest of you.  Look for more to come soon!