The weekend of January 17th and 18th, teachers from all over the country got together for a Suzuki Principles in Action course in Madison, WI. It was an experience that I, as one of the teachers who attended, will never forget.
SAW president, Kari Gunderson and I arrived on Friday night to check into the Courtyard Marriot Madison East and make sure everything was set up for the next day. We also got to meet our fantastic teacher trainer for the weekend, Beth Titterington. We checked out the room to make sure everything was set up to our specifications and then went to our rooms for an early bedtime.
The next morning, teachers from all over the country arrived to learn more about working as a Suzuki teacher. Over the next two days, we watched many videos of other teachers and discussed our own teaching ideas with each other. I always love getting inspiration from other teacher to improve my teaching and I'm so glad I did not miss this opportunity.
Outside of the all the learning, the weekend was also a great time for us to socialize with each other. We shared meals and had more conversation, often about things completely unrelated to teaching.
I know I can't speak for everyone who attended the SPA course, but I returned from the weekend energized, wanting to use all the new ideas I'd learned, and with a group of new friends that I look forward to seeing at Suzuki events in the future. Thank you to the Courtyard hotel, the SAA, my SAW colleagues, and our teacher trainer, Beth. I would highly recommend finding a SPA course to attend so you can reap the benefits of such an enlightening experience!
With 2015 coming up so quickly, I have been putting a lot of thought into what my priorities will be in the new year. Of course, intentionality in my marriage and parenting top that list, but being a teacher with my own private studio, I also need to be very intentional about my goals as a teacher and entreprenuer. Even if you don't have your own studio, I believe it's extremely important to create a vision for how to improve yourself as a teacher. Today, I'd like to share some ideas with you.
1. Choose a word
I got this idea from Ali Edwards. Choosing one word as an overarching vision for your year can be a helpful exercise. Ideally, this word will be a thread connecting every area of your life. It can help guide your priorities and your goals, of course, but it is also helpful in guiding your habits and everyday actions. No, you will not be thinking of this word constantly, but post it up on your wall, journal about it, find some way to remind yourself of this little word and it can serve as a great way to see if you're on track with where you want to be.
2. Think big
I have a bucket list for 2015. Every time I think of something I want to do in the next several months, I put it on this list. I know I won't accomplish everything on this list. There's just no way. But I have this really bad habit of not even remembering good ideas I have to begin with, so having one place to record these ideas is just smart. I can check in with this list frequently and plan my smaller projects and everyday habits so they line up with the bigger dreams that I have.
3. Plan small
Take a few of those bucket list ideas and break them down. Figure out what you need to do each month to accomplish a goal. Then break that down even smaller and figure out what you need to do in a week. Then, take that and schedule it into the days of the week ahead of you. The best way to accomplish something big is to break it up into little pieces, taking it one step at a time.
4. Leave time for learning
As someone who runs my own studio, I have to not only be working on my violin playing and teaching skills, but also my business skills. This is true of my personal life as well. I make it a point to never stop learning in all areas of my life. I read books, take online courses, take Suzuki short term teacher training, and attend workshops like the SPA course we are having later in January (only a couple days left to sign up!). You will never know everything there is to know about any one thing, but you can work to know as much as possible about the things that are important to you.
5. Don't forget to look back
This is the one area I struggle with the most. Coming up with ideas, finding books and courses... these are not difficult for me. But after a couple of months, or less, I forget what I wanted to accomplish if I don't look back. Write things down and schedule time to check-in regularly. I'm going to work on making this a habit in 2015.
These are just a few of my ideas for planning out my year. What would you add to this list?
“Our mission is to provide inspiring, high-quality learning experiences for all three sides of the Suzuki triangle – students, parents, and teachers. We also nurture deeper ties among the Wisconsin Suzuki community.”
How do we accomplish this?
In January during even-numbered years, we meet in Madison for a Winter Retreat. In 2016 we’ll be inspired by Terry Durbin, Mary Craig Powell and Jeremy Dittus, pool parties, and ice cream. In odd-numbered years, our teachers take a turn for recharging, inspiration, and new insights with a Suzuki Principals in Action retreat, led in January 2015 by Beth Titterington.
In July and August each summer we meet at the American Suzuki Institute for a day of networking, observing, and conducting the business of our association.
And now – with the help of Abigail Peterson, our website manager (and SAW secretary), David Smith over the years, and you – we’re going to sparkle up our website and Facebook page to connect with each other and draw in our families with invitations to events, ideas for practicing, and knowing each other better.
So write in a blog! Feature a teacher! Get one of your student families to share what works for them.
Send your contributions to Abigail, firstname.lastname@example.org (also SAW secretary), or president Kari Gunderson, email@example.com Our other officers are Janelle Severson, Vice President, and Carol Waldvogel, treasurer.
Think of the questions you’d like answered.
· How can we recharge our practice routines?
· Is there a Suzuki piano teacher in our area who could answer this question?
· What don’t we know about Carol Waldvogel?
Kari Gunderson teaches in northeast Milwaukee and delights in her new Wisconsin Suzuki community. She loves coming to Institute and conferences and everyone's Suzuki recitals and almost all of the work she does for the Suzuki Association of Wisconsin. She has older Suzuki friends in Columbus, Ohio, and older affiliations with the Columbus Suzuki school, Ohio State University, and her studies at Indiana University and Oberlin College.