October 08, 2003
Do not believe everything other people tell you about students! Assume they will be motivated. Find out what kind of music they like and use it; relate it to other music or topics. Create projects that ask them to find music that expresses what they are feeling and explain why, or ask them to create their own music. Tell them your story and share your art with them. I am an art teacher for 7th to 12th graders in a district that is considered very disadvantaged. Many of my best students are those who are identified as special needs or are involved in the criminal justice system. These are not problem kids, they are students with problems. Value their differences and help them learn to work the way that is best for them. Be specific, clear and consistent with expectations of behavior and work habits, give thoughtful feedback, not loud or false praise and take it a step at a time. Be patient.