by Mentor Artist Katie Issel Pitre
This year I had the joy of joining Youth In Arts’ roster and getting placement at Edna Maguire in Mill Valley, and Olive Elementary in Novato.
I was placed in three Special Day Classrooms: a K-5 classroom, and two 2nd-5th grade classrooms. I used my music background to create music classes for these students and teachers.
After an observation visit, I chose my songs based on students’ prior knowledge of songs and their interests. I was able to use the same songs for all classes. I created a felt board and felt images of objects mentioned in each song that were tactile and stimulating for students to touch.
These boards were the most notable aspect of this class, as they were created specifically for these students and to engage their senses, develop social/emotional skills, utilize fine motor skills and provide opportunity to use language skills to identify objects and name objects.
Watching students engage not only with the felt boards, but also with the drums, shakers and songs, I was able to access multiple intelligences that accessed the whole student. Over time, my relationship with them deepened and I was able to support their development in closer alignment with their teachers goals. It became clear that my weekly presence was having an impact, that relationships on many levels were being built and that IEP goals were being reached to everyone’s satisfaction.
The unspoken link in the chain is supportive teachers who are open, participating, engaged, and communicating with me weekly to maintain standards and fulfill the residency goals. If it were not for the teachers modeling relationships with me and the music, the students wouldn’t have had such rapid growth and such deep success.
I’m so grateful for this opportunity to teach music to these students and with these teachers, and hope to have many more opportunities to share and play in music.