My daughter Sarah, a eighth-grade language arts teacher, is the organizer of Career Day at her middle school, the Friday before Winter Break, a fun day of learning for the kids. Every year, my family comes down to Statesboro to participate, daughter Lucy the hairstylist, siggershairdressers.com, and Dad the civil engineer discussing everything from traffic signals, automated vehicles and stripes on the roads to driving bucket trucks and other heavy equipment.
For several years, Career Day has been a chance for me to help out, meet Sarah’s students, and have a fun family weekend. Last year, we were an hour away when I got the call on my cellphone…
“Mommm,” in a lovely tone she perfected long ago, “Mr. … got called in to his main office. Would you be a substitute for Career Day.?”
Wow. No music with me at all, no egg shakers,rhythm sticks or any other fun “toys” that even big kids would enjoy. I made some quick plans of songs I could lead for them to echo. I also made a few notes to talk about: what kids learn from songs and motions, upper-body and trunk strength (called large body movement).
Last year worked. I remember one class quizzed me “can you name a song about…?”, others were interested from a babysitting angle, as even the boys in a small town are required to watch younger siblings or cousins. They liked finding out that things like climbing, painting on a easel, dancing and moving your arms are precursors to learning to write with a pencil. They laughed when I said cutting up junk mail is a learning activity, as well as sweeping up the mess!
This year was a bit different. There was a full slate of Career Day Speakers for all eight classes. Just in case, I packed my iPad full of kids tunes and a wireless speaker. With all the flu going around this year…
A few minutes into my husband’s presentation, which included a cool video on the I-85 rebuilding, there was a knock at the door. I was needed, as one of the speakers was late. At first, some of the eighth-graders were not impressed to be listening to a music teacher, rather than the posted speaker, but I asked them to stand up and we did two traditional songs, “Pizza Hut/the Fast Food Song” and “I’m A Nut,” which feature lots of stretching and learning. Soon, most of them were singing and having fun, with all participating in the discussion of what a young child might learn by doing these songs. I ended up leading three full classes and two partial classes, so I was glad I brought some music this year. From the thank-you notes the teenagers sent, I think they had fun and learned a few things about brain development and pre-writing. Most of them enjoyed the singing and dancing too!