TEACHER VOICE: The problem with my urban music classes? It wasn’t the students, it was me

Via the Hechinger Report by Lincoln Smith on November 26th, 2019

Nothing truly prepares you for the realities of teaching in an underserved community.

Racial disparities in public education are an essential issue for every teacher to understand — but especially for white educators who teach children of color. While most pre-service teaching programs do not equip you to meet these challenges, each school I have taught in has provided me with experiences that have shaped me and the way I’ve worked as a music teacher in urban schools.

After spending 10 years as a contract musician stringing together gigs, teaching private music lessons and performing odd jobs, I stepped into a part-time music teaching position in an urban charter school. My first day as a music teacher was harrowing. I found 12 playable guitars in my classroom — and 14 students who were resistant to me. After several chaotic classes, I wondered, What was I doing wrong? Why won’t they listen to me?

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