Sunday, October 6, 2013

Lady Band it all started

If you are a band director in the state of California then you may already know a little bit about this because you might have even been there when it all started.

If you are friends with me on Facebook you have LOL'ed one too many times about the many memes that have been posted on my wall since lady band director all started.

This is my best attempt at the story that is "Lady Band Director"

It was an early morning at the California All State Music Education conference or as we like to call it "CASMEC" and it was time for our annual California Band Directors meeting. While its a crazy early morning session and typically not well attended we knew (as someone who is on the conference "special projects" committee) that this year in particular our general session would be well attended because we were going to have our official membership vote to move the conference to San Jose.

The room was packed. There was a long table elevated at the front of the room that our very large board of directors sat on.

I will say this in defense of how and where this story goes....there were more women in the room than one might expect in a room full of band directors and band directing can be a bit of a boys club.  Every one knows this is a male dominated profession but every one also knows that there are a lot more female band directors these days.....or at least I sure feel that way. And I will say that at the beginning of this meeting it felt that way too.

We have a few ladies (not near as many as I think we should have) on the CBDA board. We have a wonderful lady administrative assistant for our organization. Our meeting started out with introductions and some reports as well as introducing our new members and our college band directors in the room....and I will point out that there was presence of ladies being introduced during this time....

And then...then it got real. One of our more veteran band directors got up to give his report. Now I'm going to same this as a disclaimer...this blog is not a rant on what he said. In fact, I honestly am not offended really at what took place next but it did change the course of history a bit and for that I am thankful. The fun, humor, and awareness that these next statements brought to Lady Band Directors everywhere is appreciated so here goes.

He looked out among us all and said "Before I get started I would like to take this opportunity to thank the lady band directors. You all have been doing such good job teaching..." I'm not sure how it ended because that's all I needed to hear.

It got quiet as I remember and we each kind of started looking at each other. Its those kind of moment where everyone is silent but mouthing things like "can you believe he just said that?" And it wasn't just the LBD's scouting out the reactions of the other LBD's in the room. In conversing with other folks it was many people leaning over and saying things like "he might be right but you just can't say that anymore." It was awkward because no one knew what to say or do.

One woman was enraged. She came up to me after the meeting because, yes, I am a lady band director, I'm on the conference committee, and I spoke at the session.  I told her that I too couldn't believe that he said that but I wasn't going to take offense to it because I was not sure exactly what he meant by it. I tried my best to help her see that it probably was an innocent statement by a gentleman who thought he was making a positive and supportive statement. A man who is from a different era and just didn't actually know what would be the proper or appropriate venue to share his enthusiasm and support for the evolution of the profession. Or maybe not. Maybe he meant it a different way.

Or maybe he meant it exactly how he said it. Who knows....and honestly who cares.....because.....what came out of it actually has been worth it. I think what he was trying to say....and if it wasn't then I'm going to take it this that there are MORE lady band directors than there have been before and you know what we ARE doing really great things in music education.

Now most of the folks who read this blog I assume are band directors. We are an odd bunch and when we are together we are like a bunch of caddy school girls so let me tell you it wasn't within 15 minutes that "Lady Band Director" was ALL we could talk about.

Before I could make it downstairs from the first floor to the second floor we had jokes about composing music for "Pieces of Ladies." I had to rush down and have a good laugh with our Lady Administrative Assistant about how we should start having "binders full of women" at our registration area so that when people are voting for things or need assistance they know where to find all the ladies.

And then we had our first meme. These memes and the dialogue for the remainder of the conference was really about how we needed "a lady band director" to do something. This was NEVER implied in the original statement....but that's where we took it because "lady band director" took on a life of its own.

It started with this meme:

Then we returned home. I couldn't help but tell my jazz band. My students have an amazing ability to use lady band director comments at just the right moments. When leaving the stage at the jazz festival "Ms. Bounds that was pretty good for a lady band director. Your band swings pretty hard." I can be heard when I have to put on my heels for a concert "its hard to be a lady band director." And you know what it is but what's not hard is receiving all of these memes posted on my Facebook! Its taken on a life of its own and somehow I end up on the receiving end of a lot of the commentary via text message and the posting of many memes on my Facebook.  A big shout to fellow band director and friend Todd Summers (who didn't even experience the first LBD moment) for never missing an opportunity to create a meme for me. In case we aren't Facebook friends here's a montage of the memes.

They started with:

Then I had some drama with my car so I was gifted with these:

Then I took my Jazz Bands & Combos to Santa Barbara:

Then I celebrated 10 years at my school:
(I believe this meme was brought to us by a fellow LBD)

Most recently we got new marching band uniforms. Naturally Ryan had to share in his enthusiasm for our new uniforms with us:
What has this brought about? A little celebration about being a lady band director, celebrating the differences between our male and female counterparts. We are different. Its not a good thing or a bad thing. Its different. I guess you could say its celebrating diversity. It gives us a platform to enjoy it, something to have a little fun with (and boy do we ever). It gives us lady band directors a little something to talk about. In fact here's a little shout out to me and one of my fellow LBD's who is an avid fan of the memes.
Lady Band Directors are different. We wear dresses and heals. We love making music with kids and we like having a good time doing! So here's to all the LBD's out there and their fan clubs! Celebrate our diversity, enjoy band directing, and most importantly KEEP MAKING MEMES!
Here's the Thrifty Band Director with some of her fabulous students! 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Layering a Foundation for Change (in grading & assessment)

Disclaimer: This blog is part of a series that summarizes and discusses the book "Grading and Reporting Systems for Student Learning" by Thomas R. Guskey & Jane M. Bailey. Please consider reading the whole book...this is just my summary and thoughts from the text....

Chapter 3: Laying a Foundation for Change

This chapter takes a step closer to the solutions that the book presents for the difficult challenge of creating grading and reporting systems that promote and accurately assess student learning. This chapter of the book bring up some excellent points that begin to lay a framework for a new way of looking at the grading process.

Profound Statement #1:
Grading and Reporting Are Not Essential to Instruction
This is a shocking yet true statement. Great teaching does not require grades.

Profound Statement #2:
The primary job of grading and reporting is NOT to facilitate student learning.

Profound Statement #3: 
A requirement of great teaching is to "regularly check on students' learning progress".

Great teaching includes teachers giving students "regular and specific feedback on their learning progress."  This feedback needs to have clear direction for how the student  can improve. Keep in mind checking is different than grading. When you check with students you are finding out how your students are doing, see what they have learned, and what they still might be struggling with. The book describes this process as "diagnostic and prescriptive." Grading and reporting is different because it involves "judgement of adequacy of students' performance at a particular point in time." It is therefore "descriptive and evaluative."

It is tricky for teachers to wear both of these hats...."one as advocate and one as judge for students." Teachers have to work to find a balance between "the formative, instructional purposes of assessments of student learning, and the summative, evaluative purposes required in grading." You don't have to include all of the evidence that you gather from students as part of their grades either.

This section brings up the concept of Mastery Learning for the first time. Mastery learning really caught my attention as its seems like that is ultimately the attempt of music least it is for me. I want students to be proficient at minimum with the content that I am providing in my class....and I will work for and with my students to get them there. If a student doesn't pass a music theory unit I would rather provide them with further materials to improve their skills then just give them an F and move on. I want them to learn! Students can be given corrective work and once they complete that they can try to pass the assignment again. I also really liked that in this system students must complete the corrective assignments in order to be allowed the opportunity to re-do the assessment they didn't pass.

Grading and Reporting Require Subjective Judgments
Assigning grades and reporting on student learning is a mostly subjective process. Teachers have a lot of choice in how they set up their grading systems and how they assign grades. Its a delicate balance. The more "detailed and analytical the grading procedures" the more subjective it becomes. But the more detailed the systems, the better learning tools we provide our students.

The important things for teachers to consider include making sure that their grading standards, all compentents of the grades, and the criteria used to determine grades are all made clear. When these things are clearly articulated it only enhances the validity of the student's grade since human judgement can not be completely removed from the grading process.

Profound Statement #4: 
Grades Have Some Value as Rewards, but no value as punishments. 

One of the most helpful things that I read in this entire book was the last section of this chapter that focused on learning criteria...
Profound Statement #5: 
Grading and reporting should be done in reference to learned criteria. 

This section starts by clearning pointing out that teachers should not be grading on the curve. The book points out a significant amount of research and rationale as to why teachers should stay away from this kind of grading. I highly suggest reading this section. With that being said, I don't grade on a curve and therefore, I focused on other material presented in this section.

What I did take away was an idea presented by John Bishop of Cornell University. He outlined the idea of a common standard and that the goal of the teacher should be to have every student achieve this standard. It then also becomes a common goal of all the students to achieve this standard.

Profound Statement #6: The competition is against the standard and not each other. 

This completely resonated (and still resonates with me). That is exactly how I want to be teaching... to defined standards with the goal for all students to succeed.

The book does also discuss some important topics such as the selection of valedictorians. I think for individuals who are academic counselors and adminstrators this is a great section to read and discuss, and potentially revise your current systems.

The final section of the this chapter has been the most influential thing in helping me determine my new grading and reporting viewpoint (and system) for my classroom and it started with clarifying learning criteria. 

Profound Statement #7: There are three different types of learning criteria used in grading and reporting. 
1. Product criteria
2. Process criteria
3. Progress criteria

Product criteria is what advocates of standard and performance based approaches to teaching and learning use predominately. The focus is on what the students know and are able to do at a specific point in time. Examples are final examination scores, final products (reports or projects), overall assessments, and othe culminating lesson activities.

Process critieria often advocated by teachers who believe that product criteria does not create an adequate picture of student learning. Teachers who value effort and/or work habits as factors in reporting student learning use process criteria. These teachers regularly count classroom quizzes, homework, classroom participation, and/or attendance as important factors in reporting and grading of students.

Progress critiera is used by teachers who believe its important to consider what students have gained from learning experiences. This could also be viewed as "improvement scoring" or "educational growth".

"We believe, however, that if learning is assessed using a well-defined set of credible learning standards that include graduated levels of performance, then progress and growth criteria can be considerd synonymous."

The book does continue to go on to say that progress critieria typically looks at how a student progresses over a particular period of time rather than just focusing on where a student is at one particular given point in time. The result of this can be highly individualized scoring criteria and assignments for each student. Most of the current research in this area is focused on differentially paced instructional programs and those students in special education programs.

This idea of progress critieria really did resonate with me as a music teacher because our students are all at very different places in their musical development and so trying to find ways to customize the students' music education plan or assignments could be highly beneficial to the students' musical growth.

The book recommends that its important to outline "clear indicators of the product, process, and progress criteria and then to report them seperately". While this is simply put it can be very difficult to do....outlining how this can be done in different classrooms is a big focus of what is to come.

My next blog is going to introduce my new course syllabus for my band classes and share some of the trials and tribulations I have had as I embark on this new grading and reporting journey.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Schools making a change!

This is a video segment from our local news about a school is getting outside the box when it comes to grading & reporting.

Understanding the Past To Move Forward For the Future

Disclaimer: This blog is part of a series that summarizes and discusses the book "Developing Grading & Reporting Systems for Student Learning" by Thomas R. Guskey & Jane M. Bailey. Please consider reading the whole book...these are just my thoughts on the text.

Chapter 2: Exploring the History of Grading and Reporting

What is clear about grading and reporting systems in general is that there has been tons of talk and research on the topic. What this chapter clearly points out is that we know a lot about grading and reporting students' work and we've known this information for a very very long time. But what's troubling throughout the literature is while the education community has known a lot about student learning and how to evaluate it for this very long period of time that we have had public education in America, this knowledge has not actually made it into the practice of grading and reporting. Its really been since the 1990s that what we have learned is really starting to find its way into the classroom.

Its not a big surprise to educators that we are struggling with this topic in our profession. I know personally I am struggling right now (hence why I ready the book and am writing the blog). What was interesting to me in the first chapter of this book was quotes from reports that clearly listed serious problems with the current grading systems of....1933. This is not a new problem and so it makes it even more troubling that we have an issue at all.

Early Developments....
Grading and reporting systems didn't come about until after the 1850s. Back in the days of the one room school house everyone just learned together and teachers went to a students' home and just shared their progress over a nice meal or happy hour :) (ok I added that part). It wasn't until the late 1800s in which the whole concept of grade levels crept up into education and with this came new ideas about curriculum and teaching methods....and with that came formal student assessments. Back then they were simply a list of the skills a student had mastered and what they needed to improve. Simple enough. My favorite observation about these assessments was that these assessments were done "primarily for students' benefits." This was the first instance of failing students because if they didn't master the necessary skills they couldn't go on to the next level....welcome to our first narrative report card.

Next we find ourselves in a new era of American education....compulsory education. With the influx of students and the growing need to evaluate this large quantity of students elementary education continued to mostly focus on the narrative style of report card while at the high school level grading moved to the more percentage style based grades that were precursors to the grading and reporting systems that we have today.

Problems with Subjectivity in Grading
Percentage based grading may have crept up on American education but not the criticism of it. As early as 1912 a study was released that brought up serious concerns about the "reliability of percentage grades as accurate indicators of students achievement" (p. 26). For me this is what caught my attention early on in the book. Percentage based grades is what I use because I know no other way and the resources that I am given at my job are percentage based grade book systems. What kind of education malpractice am I committing if I am using a grading system that doesn't even reflect their achievement? Well that brought me to the morale dilemma I have been unpacking for the last few we are....

The book continues to elaborate on this topic through specific examples. You can read the book for more on that but here's what I can tell was shocking....but they were real world examples...from 1912....that sounded an awful lot like now.

Modern Grading & Reporting Systems
In the era of modern grading we see the move from percentage scores to "scales that had fewer and larger categories" (p. 27). This includes scales like "excellent, average, poor" or our modern grading system of "A, B, C, D, F" We also see the emergence of grading on the curve. It was believed at the time that grading on the curve was a good idea because students intelligence scores often resembled a "normal probability curve," it was believed to be fair and equitable, and finally it was easier for teachers. What is easier for teachers might not be what is right for students. "Grading on the curve also relieved teachers of the difficult task of having to identify specific learning criteria (p.27)." The book goes on to say/assume this "Fortunately, educators today have a better understanding of the flawed premises behind this practice and its many negative consequences."

What has happened in the last several years is that we have seen schools abandon the traditional grading systems by getting rid of grades, moving to pass/fail systems, and final the mastery learning approach. Since there is no common ground on what actually works we have a lot of different systems in our education midst. We've got letter grades and number systems. We've got "proficient" and "distinguished". We've got "standards based" reporting systems. We commonly find the more traditional approaches taking place at the secondary level where they are adding plus and minuses to the grades and then trying to lump in a multitude of factors into a single letter grade. As the book quotes "the result is a 'hodgepodge grade of attitude, effort, and achievement" (p. 28). And you know what my response to that statement was....

Great. That's exactly what I have been doing.

The Effects of Grading on Students
One of the my biggest concerns about our current education system is that my students are not actually focused on learning but are focused on getting an A for their transcript (or they don't care about their grades because they don't care about learning and aren't going to go to college). Well, I am a super big dork and one of my favorite things in the world is to learn. I like learning instruments.  I like learning about history. I will be the one standing there reading every sign at Yosemite including all the materials they handed us when they entered the park and am disappointed that I don't have service....not because I can't check in on facebook but because I can't wikipedia the hell out of that place to learn more.

Ok back to the kids...they are effected by our grading systems in a profound way, this we may or may not know. If you didn't know that....well they are. Our grades and our commentary that we give them on their papers in our red pens. All of it matters. Students who receive comments with grades achieve higher scores than those just given a mark. Grades aren't essential to teaching and learning people, but here's the big one "grading can be used in positive ways to enhance students' achievement and performance," in other words "grades can be used for good & not evil" (that's my quote by the way). And "positive effects can be gained with relatively little effort on the part of teachers"(p. 29). Crazy......if we give the kids just a little it will go a long way! "The message teachers communicate in their comments to students is vital to its effects on students."

So what do we need to do as a profession? We need to know our "ever-expanding" knowledge base about education. We need to learn and then actually change. We need to know where we came from and move forward. We need to make "thoughtful decisions" because if we don't well....."we are indeed doomed to repeat that history, committing the same mistakes again and again (Cuban, 1990), and will never realize our true potential as educators".

And ain't that the truth! (and just think all of these powerful statements in quotes came from a delightful book with kind of a boring title....I'm telling should really read the whole thing at some point).

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Old versus New....the Impetus for Change

Disclaimer: This blog is part of a series that summarizes and discusses the book "Developing Grading & Reporting Systems for Student Learning" by Thomas R. Guskey & Jane M. Bailey. Please consider reading the whole book....these are just my thoughts on the text....

Chapter 1: Defining the Impetus for Change
Chapter 1 really sets the stage for what is going to come in the book. We all know that change isn't easy, especially in education but part of our responsibility as a professional educator is to grade which the book points out is an "exercise in professional judgement."

The book outlines five different "developments that make change in grading and reporting systems imperative." Keep in mind that this book was actually written in 2001 (but still very timely) so hence the lack of discussion of modern education movements such as common core.

"1. The Growing emphasis on standards & performance assessments that makes current reporting practices inadequate.

2. Parents & community members are demanding more and better information about student learning progress.

3. Advances in technology allow for more efficient reporting of detailed information on student learning.

4. Grading and reporting are recognized as one of educators most important responsibilities.

5. There is growing awareness of the gap between our knowledge base and common practice in grading and reporting.

The book talks also about "Standards for Teacher Competence" which is not something that I had given much thought to but it presents a few standards from a publication called Standards for Teacher Competence in Educational Assessment of Students from 1990. There are two standards that the book brings up. One is standard 5 which states "Teachers should be skilled in developing valid pupil grading procedures which use pupil assessments." Teachers need to be prepared to know how to combine various sources of information to generate grades that reflect the students performance in their class and on the assigned tasks. Standard 6 states "Teachers should be skilled at communicating assessment results to students, parents, other lay audiences, and other educators," Standard 6 calls for teachers not only to have a knowledge of assessment results but how to also communicate them.

The goal of the book is to help teachers be successful at grading and assessment. There is some interesting reading in chapter 1 including a personal reflection from the authors, ideas about teachers, students, and parents perceptions on grading and reporting. There is also a very interesting section on "The Points-Driven Academic Economy of Classrooms" that is a few good paragraphs worth of reading. Ultimately there is a lot of perceptions on grading and reporting between the various groups of stakeholders. The book highly recommends from the very beginning this concept: "Multifaceted reporting systems that include a collection of reporting tools to satisfy the diverse information needs of teachers, students, parents, and other interested persons present the best and most practical solution to these challenging communication problems." ("Developing Grading & Reporting Systems for Student Learning" by Thomas R. Guskey & Jane M. Bailey, pg. 23)

So get ready because its time to start to figure this whole thing out! 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Back to School/Back to Grading

For a very very long time I have struggled with the concept of assigning grades/keeping a grade book etc. in our performance based classes. While we talk a lot about assessment and standards and now common core curriculum I didn't feel like we have talked a lot about the nuts and bolts of managing assessment in terms of handling grades etc.....

So I started a journey this summer that is no where close to being done. Solving this problem of grading and reporting student learning in my own classroom. Through the support of my friend Matt (a fellow band director who also decided to read the same book) we picked up the following book:

And I just finished reading the entire thing. So for the first time on this blog I am going to try to run a "series" of blog posts that summarize and share the information presented in the book. I recommend that you read the book but if you can't, won't, or don't oh well. I loved the book and agree with the authors that I think there should be used and abused copies in every classroom and staff room in America because if nothing else this book makes you really thinking about grading systems. You don't have to agree with everything in the book but as a teacher we have a responsibility to stand behind what we decide to present in our classrooms and how we choose to evaluate and grade student learning.

So I will be summarizing each chapter briefly focusing on what I believe is going to be most relevant for my music classroom (and maybe yours...again which is why I recommend that YOU read the book). The ideas presented are not mine but a summary of each chapter. I will also be sharing samples of how implement these ideas into my classroom. I already know it won't necessarily be pretty but I have to start somewhere.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Fundraiser: 2nd Annual ST Play A Thon

Part of the fun of this blog is sharing fundraising information. The Santa Teresa Music Play A Thon is going to need more than one blog to talk about it but here's an intro into what it is.

My band staff member/percussion educator/musician extraordinaire, Reno Brian, brought our program the idea for this fundraiser that he done at his high school. We embraced the idea, even though its a ton of work, to put together the Play A Thon with the hope that eventually this would be one of the only fundraisers that we do in the entire year. In our second year, I believe we have barely scrapped the surface of what is possible with this fundraiser....but that's another blog.

What is it? Well here's what Facebook says "The Playathon is a FREE performance fundraising event in which various ensembles at STHS come together for an 16-hour musical marathon. Come enjoy music from our award-winning Jazz Bands and Concert Ensembles, and even some student rock bands. Donations go to new marching band uniforms, instrument repairs, staff instruction, music purchases, and much more. This year's theme is Viva Las Vegas and will feature music inspired by the iconic city. Some of San Jose's finest food trucks will be on hand to support the public portion of the 16 hours of continuous music. They are donating part of the profits to support the next generation of musicians.This event is open to the public after 3pm. Free to the public. Donations are tax-deductible."

Committees were formed in the fall for everything from decorations, prizes, advertising and media, and pledge parties. Parents and students join the committees because an important element of this event is that we want the students to do a majority of the work and participate in the planning and execution of the event itself. The students and parents have all been hard at work on the event planning for months. 

Prior to the event the students volunteer on their committees. The students have been building props and decorations for the event, which the theme this year is "Viva Las Vegas" The student prize committee has been soliciting local businesses for donations of prizes for our student prize drawing (students earn drawing tickets through all their volunteer efforts that they can use to enter for prizes at the prize drawing) and for a silent auction like drawing as well (the public can buy tickets and put them in for various items in our public drawing). 

The big thing that students have been participating in are pledge parties. This is where a family hosts a group 10 students at their home and go out amongst the neighborhood and knock on doors, play some songs, and ask for donations. To date we have made just over $7,000 on our pledge parties. 

We have also been soliciting donations for our uniform sponsorship drive as well.

The event is a fundraiser, before and during the event. Last year we raised around $10,000. With our new marching band uniforms in production we hope to raise as much money as possible to assist in that purchase as well as to continue to support student scholarships and badly needed instrument purchases. The event is also a thank-you event for our community for their support of our program. Its also a celebration for all the students' hard work. While they do perform at the event they also receive drawing tickets and a delicious free meal donated by Buca di Beppo and Whole Foods (the students actually were able to secure the Buca di Beppo donation themselves which is awesome). 

So in a nutshell that's the Play A Thon. If you are local we hope you can come check it out. Visit our website at or join us at our event on Facebook at

Sunday, February 24, 2013

It takes a village....reflections from CASMEC 13

Its been a long time since I posted anything. In essence the thrifty band director just dropped off the blogging map but I didn't drop off the face of the planet. I just got too busy. Most teachers and band directors are but I have had an extreme case of overcommitment. A few of my close friends basically started staging mini intervention conversations with me about slowing the heck down! But volunteering for everything is like an addiction and you can't really get help until your ready.

Last week I hit my breaking point. Rock bottom. And I am now ready to go into recovery. What's the solution for being too busy? Quitting everything is what I have been saying. Now that's not entirely true. The root of all of this stems from this reflection point....I have been teaching high school for 10 years (at the same school, I might add) so what do I want out of the next 10 years? And that's an interesting question. But the simple answer is that I know I can't go on doing everything that I have been doing.

In the first 10 years of your career I think you do need to jump in and get involved. You need to volunteer to work at conferences, host music festivals, work at summer music camps,  network with colleagues, and serve the profession. Heck I think you always need to do that stuff but in the first 10 years of my career I have done ALL of that and simply put, I would like to stop for just a little bit and.....

Focus on my continually growing program. Professionally develop. Keep up on this blog. Prepare and present sessions at conferences. Play vibraphone, ukulele, and french horn. Heck maybe even audition to have my band perform at the state conference. I could even maybe attend CASMEC (California All State Music Education Conference) because I haven't attended 1 entire session or concert in the history of the conference (and previously the same was true at CBDA).

So the last few months have been really challenging for me as I have tried to sort out and prioritize my time and how I want to use it most effectively while barely maintaining an insane schedule. Last week I had my breaking point. The Wednesday I am supposed to leave to go to the CASMEC conference and be on the special projects committee with a car literally full of percussion equipment (that percussion schlep directly contributed to multiple mini meltdowns & minor injuries) I have no car because its in the shop and am hit in the same day with my tax bill and a ridiculous price tag on the repair. My spirits were crushed when making those hard adult decisions about money etc. and I just felt like the last thing I wanted to do was go to work at a conference that I wasn't even going to attend....again.

Here's the percussion equipment I hauled down to Fresno.

That became this....
I call this percussion jenga.

We call that burnout. And I am and was burned out BUT I will say that despite blistered feet and little sleep I got more out of the conference than I actually thought I would. While I am leaving the special projects team for next year's conference (because I know that when this conference comes to San Jose there will be NO way I am getting out of working that event) I was able to tap into more professional development than I would have thought. Within the first evening at our special projects team meeting I learned more about technology and the use of my ipad in the course of our first night hang than I have since I got it. People go to sessions to find out about cool apps and more effective ways to use technology in a classroom. Before the conference even started I got all of that without attending a single session. I got the opportunity to spend 4 days with my amazing group of friends on the special projects committee, the Fresno State Music Ed crew, and the rest of the CBDA conference volunteers, who just working and talking to them did help re-focus my energy about teaching and also help answer the question "what do I want in the next 10 years of my career?"

I don't really plan on fully answering that question because what I have learned in the first 10 years is that nothing ends up how you plan it....and that isn't necessarily a bad thing. I might not have seen an entire concert but I did get to spend hours hanging out with Third Coast Percussion who were our headlining guest artists for our opening concert (hence the ridiculous amount of percussion equipment in my car). I got to geek out with them about percussion and new music and had a great time hearing great percussion ensemble music. I got to spend some quality time with my one student who made the all state high school concert band.  My former student teacher/friend/ Mr. Lane was there to rescue me when I needed a break from conference working to run around the exhibit hall. I made more friends and connections. I found out our marching band uniforms are in production. I finally got around to purchasing a text that I've been meaning to get for the AP Music Theory Class I am teaching in a few years.  I got some advice on some tenor sax jazz ballads. As I drove home and as I type now I am amazed at how much I got out of the conference that I didn't really "attend" but "worked".

We have a pretty good thing going on here in California Music Education. So thanks to everyone for a great conference. Thanks to all of you who have been bugging me about what happened to the blog. I'm shifting some priorities to make time for the things that I enjoy and actually learned how to use twitter after having an account for a couple years....

Here's some more fun shots from the conference.
Mr. Lane ANGRY bell

Paulo....unsure bell

Mr. Lane "happy bell"

Paulo rocking the SJSU Marching Band Shako at the SJSU Booth

Rocking the shako myself

Rocking the exhibit hall by playing a pocket trumpet

I have fallen in love with this sage green plastic flute I can clean in my dishwasher. Not a bad sound either for the price :) Add that to my wish list of instruments I want to own....
Special Projects Dinner...besides the company the second best thing about working is the dinner that we get to have at the end of the conference! Jon Grantham ROCKED finding us a 5 star restaurant experience in Fresno....not an easy task.

A deconstructed drumstick. Box 5 dessert.