New York State early-career teachers' selection and use of pedagogical approaches in elementary general music
Bugos, Kristen Marie
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A mixed methods two-phase sequential explanatory design with concurrent embedded design addressed these questions: (1) (A) Which pedagogical approaches (Dalcroze, eclectic, Kodaly, Music Learning Theory, Orff) are chosen by teachers as they begin their careers? (B) Do their approaches change over time? (C) Why or why not? (2) (A) What influences teacher choice of pedagogical approach? (B) In what ways, if any, are influences similar for teachers of varying pedagogical preferences? (3) In what ways and to what extent do elementary general music teachers use the pedagogical approaches with which they most strongly identify? Approximately 14% of the population of New York State elementary general music teachers with one to five years of experience completed the online survey. Three purposefully-selected volunteers participated in follow-up case studies. Choice of pedagogical approach seems to be a complex decision involving the interplay of ten significant personal and professional influences in a manner unique to each teacher. Most participants called their teaching approach eclectic but many had never made any conscious choice. Almost half of teachers were still using their initial approach; one-third were not. The most frequently-given reasons for this were "what works" and "student needs." Adherents to the major approaches reported using some, but not all, of the "official" pedagogical practices and teaching techniques. Two conceptual categories subsumed the various themes that emerged as important to case study participants: providing a good music education to students, and doing personally fulfilling and enjoyable work. These categories were foundational to the teachers‘ career satisfaction and intrinsically linked to their choice of approach. The connection of pedagogical approach to the two major concerns of early-career elementary general music teachers engenders some consequential implications. Pre-service and early career teachers should be made aware that they have a choice of approach—which matters—and that choice should take into account individuals‘ personal and professional experiences, preferences, and needs. The professional mindset should include an expectation of continuing professional development in the approach or approaches of choice. Organizations like AOSA, DSA, GIML, and OAKE can fill the gap where methods courses are currently unable to provide necessary depth.