(Part of the “Interviews with Music Educators” Series)
Her name is appropriate. Aileen Miracle is a blogger, teacher, TPT store owner, workshop clinician, AND one of the best Kodaly teachers around. I wanted to learn more about Aileen and her teaching philosophies, so we arranged an email interview. Here’s what she had to say regarding music ed:
You are well known as a Kodaly educator. Could you share when and why you felt that the Kodály approach to teaching music fit your teaching style?
I really love the sequential aspect of Kodály-inspired teaching, using folk music that is accessible and engaging to students. In my Level 1 training, I fell in love with how a lesson could unfold magically, going from one song to the next with smooth transitions. In my student teaching, I learned lots of wonderful material, but during my levels, I learned even more and then found a lesson structure that worked really well for my students and me.
This has been a terribly rough year for educators: considering COVID, political issues, and teachers often not being treated as professionals. How do you feel you handled this past year, and can you share ideas on how teachers can work through these various issues without burning out?
This year was HARD! During the 2020-2021 school year, I was 100% virtual, so I had to figure out socially distanced, masked teaching this past year, on top of everything else. I was able to reach out to colleagues and friends to figure out how to teach in this new way, and had a helpful administrator, so that definitely made it easier. I would say that having or finding colleagues who will help you figure out solutions to problems is really helpful (even if that means asking questions in a Facebook group!) And also trying to focus on what you love about your job. There have been some really hard moments the last couple of years, but when I’m able to find joy in teaching music, it makes it worth it.
Who do you want to be when you grow up? 😊 (teacher, celebrity, humanitarian, family ,anyone!)
I am so lucky that I figured out at a pretty early age what I wanted to be: an elementary music educator! I also love being able to share ideas with other music educators so they and their students feel more successful!
Besides teaching, what of your other ventures would you like to share? (blog, clinician, etc.)
I have a blog, called Mrs. Miracle’s Music Room (www.mrsmiraclesmusicroom.com), a podcast, called The Music Room, a Facebook group called The Music Room (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1645688615724207), and a TpT store, called Aileen Miracle (www.teacherspayteachers.com/store/aileen-miracle). I also love to share ideas on Instagram and TikTok, @mrsmiraclesmusicroom.
Can you share one or two funny stories from your teaching experience?
I always laugh when I get called “Mrs. Musical”!
This one is more incredible than funny…my second year of teaching, I taught at two schools in Utica, MI. One of the schools I was only at for one afternoon a week, teaching first grade.
After that year, I moved to Lancaster, OH, which is more than four hours from Utica, MI, and started teaching there. Four years into that job, I had a new student named Kayla. She looked kind of familiar, and I didn’t think much of it, but then we had a conversation about where she was from…and I realized I had taught her in first grade, four years earlier, four hours away!
Do you play any other instruments besides voice?
I played trumpet in high school and college, and along the way have picked up other instruments, such as dulcimer and ukulele. I taught band for years, so can play a few songs on many beginning band instruments!
What is your favorite self-care strategy?
This seems simple, but listening to music is SO helpful, especially as music educators! If I’m feeling stressed out, listening to my favorite artists always helps.
The app “Headspace” is also free for teachers right now. I use that quite often to meditate. Here is a link: https://www.headspace.com/educators.
What is your music teaching philosophy?
I am very aligned with the Kodály philosophy, but also believe that student agency is very important in any classroom. Students should have opportunities to make choices during their music lessons, so they can learn about topics they are interested in, and create music on their own! I also love to integrate Orff-inspired and Dalcroze-inspired ideas into my lessons.
I love her self-care strategies and her teaching philosophy. Music classes SHOULD be child-led and provide choices, so the kids have ownership. I have been able to visit with Aileen twice in person and hope to again in the very near future.
Yes, it’s July. I know you don’t want to think about school, but there you have it. It’s coming. My next blogpost is an update on an earlier post: Preparing the Music Class Checklist: Count Down until Day 1. I’ll provide a list of items and preparations you can do so when that first day arrives, you’ll be cool and calm (as much as you can on a first day!)