Many, many great things happened at PASIC and for my next few articles, I’d like to recap some of the things that I was able to attend. During PASIC preview week I hyped the new College Pedagogy Committee Mentoring Day which I was able to attend on Wednesday. It was a GREAT day and it would obviously be impossible for me to capture the entire day in a blog post, but I want to relay some of the points that I thought were critical, even if some SEEM obvious. I do want to make it clear that I cannot do the day, or any individual sessions, justice in this medium. What I address will only scratch the surface of the content covered.
Dr. Tim Lautzenheiser spoke twice about communication, and knocked it out of the park BOTH times. Some of my favorite points are listed below:
1) WISDOM is always more important than INTELLECT. One example of this can be found when we enforce “black and white” rules. Enforcing rules because they exist is INTELLECTUALLY correct, but if the enforcement hurts the individual or hinders long term progress, then is it WISE?
2) Good listening always focuses on the other person. Sounds pretty basic, right? When you listen to people, are you actually listening, or are you formulating your next response based on what you think they will say? Pay attention to your thought processes for awhile, and be sure you are absorbing what the other person is saying.
3) When you push someone in one direction, their survival instincts tell them to push back. This comes across during coaching sessions when someone forces their ideas on someone else, rather than coaching them and helping them find out for themselves. It is easy for some people to jump to the defensive because that is what their survival instincts tell them to do.
4) “Positives come and go, while negatives build up.” When Dr. Lautzenheiser said this, I was reminded of one of my favorite Dale Carnegie quotes, “Praise the slightest improvement and praise every improvement. Be ‘hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise.'” Basically, when coaching someone, every negative thing you say will build up over time, but the positives don’t stick for long. And for someone to respect you, and change the way they play or act because of you, they must respect you. While it seems elementary, this, in my opinion, was one of the most important things that was said all day in regards to coaching and mentoring.
5) “At every moment, we are either making the environment better or worse.” This is self-explanatory, the question is, which are you choosing to do?
There was a session about “Educational Trends and Future Outlook,” which was led by Dean Gronemeier. This was kind of an open discussion which Dean led, and the most common traits which everyone agreed are of high importance are the ability to be versatile, and the ability to utilize technology. Are you versatile, teaching more than just percussion? What ‘out of the box’ ideas do you have that will display your ‘future outlook?’ What unique ideas do you have about how to use technology in your teaching? How does this make you stand out from the field?
Following this, there was a panel discussion about the importance of having a clear teaching philosophy, and the importance of having it written down. The idea of having a clear teaching philosophy and help many facets of your studio. First of all, it will help you make some otherwise tough decisions. Perhaps you love timpani, but your philosophy is to create well-rounded players. This will help you govern your curriculum decisions. It will also help later, when you are applying for a job, or trying to get tenure. It shows those who you are trying to impress that you know why you do everything you do, and that you have a plan. Finally, it can help your prospective and current students. If someone wants to be a concert marimbist, and your publicly posted teaching philosophy says they will only spend about 1/5 of their time playing marimba, then it helps them know that your school is not for them, in turn saving years of headache for both of you.
Rich Holly talked about the tenure process, and in all honesty, opened my eyes to the reality of this process. There are a couple VERY important points I want to recap here. The first of which is to document EVERYTHING. Even performances, clinics, or other activities that you think are “minor” are important when developing the portfolio/dossier that you will submit before receiving tenure. You need to show that you are active in the field, and that the school WANTS to have your name associated with them for a long time to come. The second thing, and this came as a surprise to me, is that you “scholarly and creative activity” are FAR more important than your teaching skills. I’m currently a student and this seems blasphemous, however if you think about your publications linking back to the name of the school, it begins to make sense. Just make sure you are spending adequate energy on these activities which may, at face value, seem less important than teaching.
The final session that I got to see was about Recruiting and Retention. Jeff Moore ran this part, and we were able to break out into smaller groups to discuss some recruiting case studies. This particular session is perhaps the toughest to summarize because every school faces unique problems when recruiting based on their size, location, perceived strengths, budgets, etc. We addressed many, many different areas and I think I would do this session a disservice if I tried to pick out any single points that were more important than the others.
I must reiterate that this article just scratches the service of what was covered. If you have any specific questions for those of us who attended, or ideas to share, please leave them in the comments below.
Originally posted on DrumChattr on November 17, 2010 by Shane Griffin.