Friends, I have discovered my secret teaching weapon.
My guitar, my sweet Eleanor.
Junior year of college, I wrote a song called “Constellations” about, well, constellations. It started out just as a class assignment, but I take all things space very seriously since I think it’s SO COOL. It’s also aligned with 3rd grade science curriculum and, according to peers, is strangely catchy.
Yesterday I brought my guitar to school, and the kids FLIPPED OUT. Seriously, they were going nuts. It worked out awesomely because I was able to say things like “We have to work reeeaaally hard on our morning work if you want me to play you the “Constellations” song later…” and it worked. Truly, it worked. They worked.
I took out my guitar before we went to the Star Lab presentation so I could play part of it for them, and I was whispering to them so that they were super quiet so that they could hear me, and they were so incredibly attentive. We were all sitting on the carpet and they were huddled around me trying to get as close as they could to the guitar without touching it. No joke, I started playing and singing this song and I’m almost 100% sure that I hypnotized them somehow. They were in this spacey/stellar/out of this world trance (see what I did there?), and when I finished I told them that they had to silently line up and, here’s the kicker: they actually lined up silently.
Needless to say my kids also rocked in Star Lab and also in science that day, so naturally I was incredibly proud of them.
Later that afternoon we looked at Google Sky Map on my phone outside and I gave them copies of the lyrics to the song (per their request) and y’all — WE SANG IT TOGETHER. I had this group of children singing my song that I wrote about stars all around me.
It. Was. Magical.
As they left for the buses, I let them each strum the guitar on their way out, which they loved. One of my students even pointed out that guitars were science because of the string vibrations (which, I honestly never really thought about until I took physics in college).
So I’m sitting with my bus kids in my room/Melanie’s room and I’m playing the guitar for them and we’re having an insanely good time, and then their bus gets called — so, naturally, I walk them down to the bus lot with Eleanor in tow and these children are STILL singing this “Constellations” song.
Best. Moment. Ever.
This instrument is seriously the best teaching tool I could have ever imagined bringing into my class. The kids are fascinated by it, and I think it’s cool that they get to see a little piece of my life outside of school (because contrary to popular belief, teachers ARE real people and teachers DO have lives outside of the school building). Having the guitar was so effective yesterday that I brought it in again today. I didn’t play it as much, but at the end of the day a group of bus kids came down with their teacher asking if I’d play for them. We played and sang (this one boy freestyled the most hilarious rap nonsense that I have ever heard) and walked to the buses, again with Eleanor.
It amazes me how much easier music makes everything. Today I even rapped about changing the “y” in a word to making the plural “ies” (I had kids dropping beats and everything) while we were doing word wall chants. These kids are so rhythmic, and I absolutely adore that about them.
Isn’t arts integration the greatest thing to ever happen to the educational system?!
I get really happy thinking about how happy they get during learning time when there’s music involved. I feel so happy because I’m ultimately doing what I love (teaching + jamming = heaven) and they’re responding to it in a positive way. Needless to say, I’m definitely planning on bringing in la guitarra on a regular basis.
…though this also means I need to start writing more educational acoustic folk songs.