Middle School to High School

Posted On: 30 June 2016

In 2012  I began my journey from middle school music teacher to music director at a high school. It was, in many ways, a difficult decision to make; I loved teaching my middle school students, the teachers in my school were awesome, the administration supported my program, and the parents were wonderful. I was also 8 1/2 minutes from my front door. Dream job, right?

We have all been there, though - I simply knew it was time to make a change. I also knew that moving to a new school would create a bump in my road and in the road of others, which made it a stressful situaiton. It was the exact right decision, though and after making the jump, I have not looked back. Even though I now drive a lot further, and work a lot longer, I know that I am, for the time being, in the right spot for me.

I have now finished year four, and these are the things that I have learned (so far...lots more to come) through this challenge. If you are changing schools, either to a different grade level, or just to a different building, these insight may help you.

  • The seniors in the new school just might not like you. Deal with it. You messed with their routine, perhaps replaced a beloved teacher, perhaps changed to a different style of teaching, assessing, directing, repertoire choice...really basically EVERYTHING important to a high school music student. Smile, be nice, teach the curriculum, accept the potential animosity and move on.
  • We all have ideas of what is important to teach and learn, and how we should go about that. Don't be surprised if there is push-back to your change. You have to decide if you are going to change by evolution or revolution. No matter what your choice, you can't do everything at once. Baby steps...
  • It took me three years to start feeling a sense of ownership and stability in my new position.
  • The administration is not going to trust you from day one. They might give it lip service, but why would they trust you if you have yet to prove yourself? Work hard and earn it.
  • After years of teaching middle school, you might think that high school students are somehow magically more mature, smarter, more organized...like mini-adults. Think again. Find out what they know and what they can do, and go from there. Make no assumptions.
  • All of that advanced high school rep that you want to conduct.....don't try to do it all the first year. You won't remember the first year anyway....
  • I started an electronic file (they are harder to loose) called "Remember this for next year". It really helped
  • You might JUST get through the first year. If it was not what you expected, don't be discouraged, surprised, or dissapointed. You probably won't be able to judge the position from your first year experience. Like I said, it took three years for me to feel settled.

Good luck, if you are on a new adventure. All those corney, cheesy 'teacher sayings' are true. You may very well be the most influential adult in somebody's life. Or many 'sombodies'. Take a deep breath, and jump in!