On Monday, I want to the PMEA District 7 Conference. (PMEA stands for Pennsylvania Music Educator's Association.) It was at Ephrata Middle School, which is near Lancaster. I was a little annoyed that it was about an hour away (my normal work commute is 15 minutes) but I decided to go anyway. My school paid for it ($75) and there was a session on the ukuleles!
I had to get up earlier than normal since I had a long way to drive. Still, I ended up being about 20 minutes late due to the weather. It was raining pretty bad, and I do not drive fast on the turnpike in the rain. All the trucks were flying and splashing water all over my little Chevy Cobalt. I drove safely but strolled up to the registration table at 8:21am. At least I arrived ALIVE.
It was still dark when I left. :(
Opening remarks were going on in the auditorium. I sat in the back. Things were just wrapping up and then we had some time to socialize until the first session started at 9am. I chatted with Laveena, our middle/elementary school band teacher. Pretty soon, it was time to go to our first session.
I hate wearing name tags.
In case you wondered if I have resting bitch face.
The first session I went to was called "Ipads in the Elementary Class". I was a little torn on whether or not to go to this session. First of all, even though I have 3 Ipads I can use in my room (to share with 24 kids!?), I do not like giving kids devices to use during music class. They use netbooks and other devices a lot during their school day. I don't feel like in elementary school they need them for music. I have a Smartboard, so I do integrate technology that way, but instead of putting a device in their hands, I want to put an INSTRUMENT in their hands... like the boomwhackers, recorder, ukuleles, resonator bells, hand percussion instruments... I think doing that is way more important than giving them an Ipad. They have an Ipad at home! They don't have boomwhakers at home!
In case you don't know what boomwhackers are...
So for the first half hour of the session, the presenter showed us apps for kids to use to play around with making music... but not actually writing music. They were apps that were more like, okay drag this button to hear the drums, tap this button for voice... It wasn't actual notation. Sure, it looked like fun to mess around with, but I'd rather do actual notation in my room. The presenter was really geeking out on those apps and spent a lot of time on them even though it seemed like more of a "fluff" thing that I'd maybe use as a reward!?
There were a couple cool apps that I could actually use on my Smartboard, but I really only came away from the hour long session with two things I would use.
It just seems like whenever someone tells you to use Ipads for elementary music, it's just fluffy games that don't really teach you much. Maybe I am wrong, but then I need someone to show me how they can actually be beneficial!
Wow, I talked a lot about the first session.... Moving on to session number two.
I wish the whole conference had been on ukuleles! In just the short time I had with this instructor, I learned a lot of useful teaching strategies I could bring back to my classroom! Unfortunately, this session (the one I was looking forward to the most!) was cut short due to the FIRE ALARM GOING OFF.
So we're sitting there, just strumming an F chord on our ukuleles, and the alarm goes off. "Do we really have to leave?" someone asked. I'm thinking, "YES WE HAVE TO LEAVE, THE FIRE ALARM WENT OFF!!!! THAT'S WHAT YOU DO! THAT'S WHY WE HAVE FIRE DRILLS!!!!"
We all went outside and huddled under the awnings because it was windy and rainy. It sucked. I was convinced a bomb would go off or there would be an active shooter outside that simply pulled the fire alarm to get us all outside like sitting ducks.
I crossed the parking lot to another awning where there was no one standing. Then other people saw my great idea and came over too. So much for peace and quiet!
We were outside for about 15 minutes until the firefighters cleared the building. I never did find out why the alarm went off.
Session three was called "Effective Cooperating Teachers". (By the way, there were several sessions offered at once and you could pick what you wanted to go to.) A cooperating teacher is someone who hosts a student teacher. I have had two student teachers and I loved every minute of it. I hope to have more in the future, so I went to this session to learn what I could do to be a better cooperating teacher. I did enjoy this session, and I intend to email surrounding universities to let them know I am interested in hosting student teachers.
I was STARVING, and lunch was next. I ate with Laveena and we chatted about our mornings. Lunch was provided for us. I had two wraps, fruit, and two coffees. I was pretty tired, I think it was lingering from being sick over the weekend.
After lunch, I went to a Middle School Choral Reading session, which is basically where a conductor chooses several pieces of music for a middle school chorus and you all get together and sing them. Normally I go to the elementary choral session, but it was at the same time as ukuleles. All the other sessions looked boring, and I wanted to SING, so I just went for fun and sang some good music. Some of the songs were hard! I definitely couldn't use any of them for my elementary chorus.
I was super excited for the last session, "Orff Approaches" is what it said on my schedule. I thought we'd get to play Orff instruments and learn some great ideas for our classroom. But then when the session started, the presenter put a piece of artwork on the whiteboard and asked us to write down words to describe it. What the heck? Was I in the correct room? Then I looked in the program given to us, and on that schedule, the session was called "Inspiring Musical Experiences from Famous Artworks and Sculpture".
Guess what I did? I GOT UP AND LEFT. Sorry, not interested in that.
I wandered around... the other sessions didn't really look like they applied to me. Eventually, I ended up in the auditorium and listened to some guy talk about marching bands.
After that, the conference was over! I made the trek home, which was a little annoying at first, due to traffic. But luckily, it wasn't raining!
All in all, it was a good conference and I'm glad I went. The sessions are always hit or miss. I definitely got some good ideas for the ukulele!
What kind of conferences do you go to for work?
Don't you wish you could go to conferences and play the ukulele!?
Don't you wish you could go to conferences and play the ukulele!?