Like any art, teaching is a skill that has to be honed. And as with art, when my students teach, they are creating something beautiful.

Kim Councill

Professor Kim Councill, music, sees teaching as an art, much like a musical performance. "Like any art, teaching is a skill that has to be honed," says Councill, who coordinates the music education program. "And as with art, when my students teach, they are creating something beautiful."

Learning to be music teachers means Councill's students are actively involved in local classrooms from their first year at Bucknell. They work with preschools, kindergarten through 12th grade and special-needs classes that include individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down syndrome and cerebral palsy.

"I firmly believe that every child has a right to a music and arts education," says Councill, who holds the Samuel L. Williams Professorship in Music. "Every child is creative and every child, regardless of ability or socio-economic status, should be given the opportunity to explore what creativity means to them."

Councill's students begin by observing music classes, which include band, orchestra, choral and general music. As music teachers, they'll need to be outstanding on their primary instrument but also pedagogically knowledgeable of all instruments of the orchestra, plus piano and voice.

After the observation stage, Councill's students get the opportunity to team-teach with her. As Councill sees that her students are ready to manage a class on their own, she grants them increasingly generous blocks of time. "At first, it's just five minutes," she says. "And I make them script everything very carefully. Thirty 10-year-olds with recorders can create a surprising amount of chaos if every detail hasn't been carefully thought out."

Five minutes leads to 15 minutes. Eventually, Councill's students are managing the entire class time on their own. "Then it's my turn to observe," she says. "Ultimately, it becomes more about us conferring than me correcting. That's when I know we've become colleagues." To Councill, teaching is second only to parenting as the most-rewarding job someone can do. "If my students aren't in awe of the responsibility of teaching someone else's miracle every day, then they should definitely be doing something else."

Posted Sept. 22, 2014


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