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Today is the last day of my 2011-2012 school year and I am thrilled to be heading into summer. This was my first full year as a working mother of two and I am very thankful to have gotten through it well. As I head into summer, my first priority is to spend more time with my two little girls and my husband. My next priority is summer professional development. Way back in 1998, after I completed my second year of teaching, I decided that I needed a “summer brain boost” as I termed it, so that I could keep learning and to keep my teaching fresh. Since our school had just installed a 16-station keyboard lab with four computers, I decided to take a music technology course offered by SoundTree and TI:ME. Lee Whitmore was my professor and music technologist guru and taught me numerous ways to utilize technology in my classroom. After that class, I was hooked. I knew that I wanted to keep learning and perfect my trade. The next summer, I took more summer TI:ME courses that involved learning about electronic keyboards and how to sequence from the sequencing king (Don Muro), learning how to set up websites and further my skills on integration from one of the nicest and most patient teachers (Scott Watson, who also is an incredible composer for elementary band music), learning audio and digital recording from Lee Bilotta at Valley Forge Christian College, and then the final TI:ME course of integrating all of my tech skills with the classroom curriculum, who was taught my one of the best music educators I have ever met, Dr. Tom Rudolph.
My summers of professional development were also filled with many amazing courses offered at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU). CCSU has a summer Masters program and when I spent one summer there taking some elective courses, I knew that this was the place for me and immediately took the steps to enroll into their summer Masters program. Six summers later, I graduated with my Masters of Science in Music Education and became a better teacher for all that I learned from that program. After completing my degree, I continued my professional development by studying the philosophies of Orff and Kodály, which I adored because many of the aspects in their philosophies resonates with how I set up my curriculum and how I teach certain concepts in my classroom.
There are endless possibilities for summer professional development. An educator could take a summer TI:ME course to learn about technology integration in the music classroom, or attend a choral workshop to listen, sing, and experience new music for the classroom and concerts, or attend sumer music conferences (NJMEA does one every August), or take classes like the ones offered at CCSU (I am teaching two during the week of 7/9-7/13 about SMART Boards in the elementary music classroom, levels one and two), or get together with other music educators in your area and sit down and talk about what works and what does not work in your classrooms. That networking is so valuable because it gives you another way of looking at your current teaching situation or curriculum.
Whatever you decided to do this summer to enhance your professional development, I hope that it is meaningful to you and it will enhance your classroom this coming school year.
Amy M. Burns is an elementary music educator, clinician, author, and musician. She currently works at Far Hills Country Day School in Far Hills, NJ teaching PreK through Grade 3 general music, grade 5 instrumental music, and grades 4-8 instrumental band. She is the author of Technology Integration in the Elementary Music Classroom, Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with a SMART Board, and Help! I am an Elementary Music Teacher with One or more iPads! She is also an author for Online Learning Exchange™ Interactive Music powered by Silver Burdett. She has given numerous presentations on integrating technology into the elementary music classroom as well as being a keynote speaker for music technology conferences in Texas, Indiana, St. Maarten, and Australia. She is the recipient of the 2005 TI:ME Teacher of the Year Award, the 2016 NJ Master Music Teacher Award, the 2016 NJ Governor’s Leader in Arts Education Award, and the 2017 Non-Public School Teacher of the Year Award. You can find out more about Amy at her website: amymburns.com