July 14, 2018 admin

In light of some proposed new projects by our NCDA organization, I’m very excited to share my opinions on the idea of something we all need, but are often afraid to ask for: mentorship, or simply the idea of being supported by reliable professionals within our very specific profession of music education.

My mother is an English Language Learners teacher that has taught in the Papillion La Vista School district for over 20 years, and has been teaching for 33 years total. She has personally witnessed a sharp increase in young teacher burnout within the last five years: the hours are longer, the break days are shorter, and fostering the learning of countless students with differing exceptionalities has never been more difficult. In the last five years, she has stated that she has taken on a much more active role in mentoring young teachers. She has been able to present younger teachers with effective classroom strategies, promote a balanced professional and social way of living, and most importantly, give support and encouragement for all the great things those teachers are doing already in the classroom.

As music teachers, we can often feel isolated within our classrooms, especially when it comes to communicating what exactly we do to other teachers in the building. We often can also feel out of sync with the health of our own programs if we only have our own experiences and standards of classroom management and musicianship to gauge excellence within our musical groups. In many cases, it is truly refreshing to have a new set of eyes and ears survey your program as a whole.

Whether it is just for one class period, or for an entire day of school, letting an outside personality and voice come into your home to evaluate the way you are teaching might sound like a tense and humbling experience, but as young teachers, we cannot pretend like we are close to perfect products. While it is easy, it is not great for our students for their music teacher to be confined in their own comfort in the classroom-we need to get uncomfortable.

My second year of teaching, I had Cheri Helmer-Riensche, a former director our school district’s sister school, Papillion La Vista South High School, come into our school and observe me as a teacher. I had known Cheri since I was a student at Papillion La Vista Senior High, and I was excited and nervous to show her our process and products, knowing her standards of excellence. I can absolutely tell you that from my experience, I only grew as an educator. She was quick to compliment, understanding of small mistakes, and let the students know how lucky they are to be members of a musical group. To me, she stressed my continuance in the battle for excellence, encouraged me in my arranging for my groups, and challenged me to use more and more student leadership within my groups.

There are many fantastic former educators and experienced educators currently living in Nebraska that are willing to share their expertise with those of us who truly need it (all of us). If you are interested in the future to either be a mentee or a mentor to other music educators, please contact your district representatives. If you teach in Sarpy, Douglas, Washington, Burt, Thurston, or Dakota counties, please contact me at tbuglewicz@paplv.org, and we can discuss future mentorship.


Tyler Buglewicz

Papillion La Vista High School
District 2E Representative

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Nebraska Choral Directors Association (NCDA)