Is choir a real class? Can the group goals be balanced with the individual academic accountability that we owe to our students? I think the answer to all of this is yes. You can grade your students INDIVIDUALLY in sight singing to ensure that no one falls through the cracks, and stick to a rehearsal rubric that can nearly eliminate classroom management issues. The secret? It’s how we grade.
Let’s talk about assessment. One of the biggest challenges as I see it facing our field is the fact that many in education don’t see our content as an academic subject. How many of you are governed under the “Activities” umbrella in your school or state? Yet, you can get a PhD in Choral Music, but you can’t get a PhD in Football…Choral music is an academic field of study for good reason. It is rigorous. It requires research, practice, and individual skill development to learn it and understand it. I believe that one of the reasons our Education colleagues don’t see us as a subject on par with theirs is the way that we grade. They see our students getting almost all A’s with very little individual accountability due to the “group” nature of our performance goals.
In this episode, I will walk through some systems that have worked well for me to balance the group performance goals with the educational IMPERATIVE to hold each student accountable as well as to hold ME accountable to teach each student.
We will talk about daily rehearsal grades and why I DON’T grade on participation. We will talk about grading kids on the QUALITY of their singing both alone and in small groups. We will also talk about moving past “showing up is enough” at concerts.
By increasing the rigor, and accountability in your classroom you may experience a backlash at first. It will take time to adjust and you might lose a student who doesn’t want to do the work. However, if you frame it the right way, they will give it a chance. In my experience, this type of rigor only makes kids feel more pride in their work in our classroom. The reality is that a student who is riding on the coattails of stronger singers in the section, but still getting an A, KNOWS they are not earning that grade. Humans will usually accept the unearned, but it takes a toll on the self esteem.
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