What is your Alma Mater?
University of Memphis
Where do you currently teach?
Andrew Jackson Elementary in Nashville, TN
How long have you been teaching?
Why do you choose to be a member of TMEA?
One of the reasons I am a member of TnMEA is for the opportunity to connect and collaborate with my colleagues. I can vividly remember my senior year of college attending the TnMEA conference and learning so much at the various sessions. By attending those sessions I was able to learn classroom management techniques, rehearsal strategies, new choral repertoire and so much more. However, more importantly being a member of TnMEA reassures me that I am not alone. There are hundreds of music teachers across the state that are experiencing the many successes and failures that I face teaching music daily. Having that network of teachers was and continues to be invaluable as I continue my career as novice music educator.
What do you love about teaching?
I love teaching because it affords me the chance to be a beacon of hope and change for all students. Teaching allows me to nurture and develop our future thinkers and leaders. I love teaching because I can let every child know that they are important and they matter. I have the freedom and power to help mold and condition a person. I love to positively impact their lives and learn how they view the world. It is my hope that I impact their lives so they can in return impact someone else. I love teaching because I can see the added value in a child’s life when they learn something or understand something. All learning is connected. When you understand one thing it most likely connects to something else. When we are younger this is big when we experience it. As we get older we still learn but we take for granted how this feels and lose excitement over the feeling of understanding several things at once. Seeing the excitement of understanding on a child’s face is absolutely remarkable. Helping students learn and understand the things around them helps me learn and to be open to the real world connections that can take place in my classroom.
If you could choose another job for one day, what would it be?
If I could choose another job for one day, I would be an event planner. Just think about it.... When we (music teachers) plan a concert for our students, we are being event planners!! How many people do we want to attend our show? What time will it start? When will it end? What is the location? What is the theme of the show? How will we market this concert to our stakeholders? How is the sound/acoustics in the room, auditorium, gymnasium, or cafeteria? Who will work the sound? When is the sound check? Do you get my point now? We are some of the best event planners! Can you imagine if they would let music teachers plan some of the Awards Shows? I am convinced they would be more entertaining and worth watching!!!
Tell us one thing about you that people would be surprised to know or something you are passionate about besides teaching.
My wife recently bought me a Playstation 4 for my birthday and I love playing NBA2K17! By far one of my favorite hobbies! Yes, I am still a BIG KID!!
Share a fun and unique idea that you use in your classroom!
One of my favorite teaching concepts I use in my music classroom is…… Quiet on the SET!
Let me explain. As a young music teacher, I learned that our students love excitement and energy in the classroom. Just think about it. They are lectured to in many classes, so when they come to my class I want them to have a fun experience. With that said, I treat my classroom like it’s a show. I never named it, but I guess it could be called the Mr. Willis show. Every show has a host and audience. Of course you the teacher are the host and the students are the audience. Every week we have a special guest, which is the new concept or standard that I want to teach. In order for the show concept to work students must be involved and understand/respect the classroom. When I say “Quiet on the SET!” all students clap one time in unison and there is a brief moment of silence. (Just like when they say on a movie set, when they are ready to film the next scene.) This method is used to redirect or refocus their attention quick and promptly. It is by far one of my favorite classroom management strategies!