First of all, let me start by saying how absolutely delighted I am to join this incredible team of educators on the single best online resource for music education and technology. I started blogging in 2006, and remember thinking how amazing MusTech.net was even then. Thanks Joe for asking me on board. It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, and I am looking forward to contributing as much as I can. As many of you know, I left the K-12 music classroom setting almost 5 years ago, and my life in the corporate world has been and remains very different. As I am asked quite frequently what it is like, I have decided to follow my other colleagues lead by creating this post that tries to draw upon both experiences.
You Might Have Formerly Taught Middle School Music But Now Are In The Corporate World If…
- You no longer have a summer vacation. This is certainly a monumental shift in your day to day life, but honestly, most music educators that I know work much of the summer to make up for the lack of a paycheck during those months (at least that is what I did). Most corporations only give two or three weeks paid vacation a year, and for me it’s been enough to get away with my family to enjoy some quality time together. I certainly miss the summer, but getting a paycheck makes up for it (a little).
- You no longer have a love/hate relationship with the beginning of September. I must admit that I always looked forward to going back to school to teach each September. I used the beginning of each school year as a reset – looking for ways to refresh my teaching style and curriculum. I also used to dread the end of my summer vacation as it meant waking up very early and not being able to spend as much time with my kids as I’d like. Now that I’ve been in the corporate world awhile, September is just like any other month in many ways, though I enjoy seeing my daughters get excited for the start of another school year.
- You no longer have to sit through inane & irrelevant professional development workshops. Although I now spend a lot of time delivering PD, I almost always hated the first day PD sessions meant to inspire us. I usually spent them creating Mad Libs to be honest. The corporate world has more than its fair share of boring meetings, but it is rare indeed to have to sit through a workshop on blood-borne pathogens.
- You can pee when you want to. I know that this is a bit crass, but its true nonetheless. Freedom is pretty nice. Nothing more to be said, really.
- You don’t have lunch duty. One of the single biggest wastes of my time while teaching was standing on lunch duty. I could never understand how it was a good use of our time. I know that teachers need “contact hours” but there must be a better way to achieve that than picking up garbage and wiping down tables. How about being able to teach more individual lessons instead? I gladly would have switched.
- You forget what it’s like to home by 4pm. Perhaps the biggest adjustment of all for me has been leaving the house every morning at 7:30am and returning at 7pm. Commuting time, plus a standard 9am – 5:30pm minimum work day means that almost 12 hours a day is spent away from home. In addition, I work a ton of weekends throughout the year attending conferences. The pay is certainly more than teaching, and that makes up for it somewhat, but I do miss the schedule.
- You can take a 2 hour lunch and not feel guilty. A lot of business is done over lunch, especially working in NYC every day. Not having to wolf down food from a brown bag that has most likely been squashed is quite civilized. It’s even better when the lunch is a business expense!
- You laugh at petty office politics. It’s true. Nothing compares to the drama of teaching middle school in an extremely affluent community. Office politics can be pretty brutal, but when you’ve been a middle school band teacher for 15 years you use your survival skills to stay out of the fray. Biggest complaints around the office usually revolve around the cleanliness of the kitchen.
- You can lead an organization right from the start. The best preparation for leading a company for me was being a middle school music teacher. Period. Being able to keep 100 12-14 year olds on task for 45 minutes straight is no easy feat, so keeping a team of professionals organized and on task on a day to day basis is easy by comparison.
- You miss the kids. I hate to admit it, but I really do miss interacting with students on a day to day basis. I’m very happy with the career moves I’ve made, but every now and then, I miss being with kids. Being a teacher is a very noble profession and the impact you make is immeasurable. Don’t ever forget that. Working with adults is very different – rewarding, but different.
I wish you all an amazing school year and I look forward to writing on this blog. Joe, Richard, Amy – thanks for having me!
Dr. James Frankel is the Head of Digital Music Education for the Music Sales Group, and Former Managing Director of SoundTree. He earned a Bachelor of Music degree from Montclair State University in 1993, where he studied the tuba as well as composition. In 1996, Dr. Frankel completed his Masters Degree in Music Education at Teachers College, Columbia University where he completed his doctoral studies in 2002. Dr. Frankel is an Adjunct Faculty member at Teachers College Columbia University where he teaches courses on music technology.