Learning Space Makeover

My colleague and I inherited a teaching space with two primary purposes: a) Band rehearsal room, b) Music Appreciation classroom. This double wide classroom was used for this purpose for nearly two and a half decades before our arrival in 2008.

When my colleague and I arrived we continued to use the space for similar functions but soon realized the limitations of the space and began to conduct instrumental music rehearsals in larger, multi-purpose rooms, but the Band Room continued to be used for Music Appreciation classes. We cobbled together an old, gun-metal gray A/V cart with a used combo cassette, CD and AM/FM unit (with an AUX input) connected to a video projector that displayed content from our computers, complete with a pull-down screen! We used the space this way for a good 6 years before I attend my first ISTE conference last summer (2014 in Atlanta). During the conference, conversations with our Educational Technologist – whom I was traveling with – went something like this: if we had a space to “re-do” at school, what could it look like? Coincidentally, the Band Room and several other areas around campus had been scheduled for seismic retrofitting construction the same summer as the ISTE conference which was a perfect convergence, and opportunity to design and make this space into a 21st century learning environment.

Here is the room as it had been oriented since I had arrived at St. Ignatius College Prep. It was essentially a rehearsal room after school and a classroom during the regular school day.IMG_0145

Rehearsal spaceIMG_0158

Under construction June 20142014-05-29 14.01.11

Some sketchesBand Room_north wall

Architectural Plans for installation of itemsBand Room blue prints

Stuff beginning to appear. Jamie and I setting up the flat screen (after mounting to the wall)2014-10-09 11.06.53

Learning space beginning to resemble Skitch drawings. Had to keep the old A/V cart around for good measure! Sitting next to it is an 12-channel Berhinger mixer connected to a Crown 300w amplifier which will power the 12″ Berhinger speakers mounted on the wall just above white boards. Affixed to the mounting bracket for monitor is an Apple TV for wireless connectivity.2014-10-25 17.25.13

A few weeks ago I picked up a headphone preamp so we could start an iPad Band jam session. The space also has 5 iMacs around the perimeter of the room (seen here) for teams to use more robust versions of Garage Band and/or iMovie.IMG_1963

The next phase is to incorporate some furniture that encourages collaboration and creates group sectors or pod areas in the room. This would include chairs, tables and desks that are modular and mobile since the space is fairly large and could support a variety of classroom arrangements. I have some ideas from a company called Steelcase that I would love to outfit the room with sometime in the next 12-16 months. And finally, none of this is possible without sharing and the ideas from my colleagues Jamie Pruden and Eric Castro for their contributions in this project.

#weprovidepep

The following is the result when I asked myself and my students how we might change the school culture through music:

This Pep Band of the 2014-15 school year became the highlight of the Varsity football and basketball seasons. Our culminating performance was the halftime of the Bruce-Mahoney basketball game in January. The band got to have 3 minutes of playing time, center court, directly in front of about 300 cheering students.

What started out as a conversation with several of the Athletic department’s administrators turned into a group of guys that would ultimately rehearse and direct themselves for the entire school community. They practice on their own, order their own dinner and are some of the school’s most accomplished musicians. They simply have become bigger than anything I could have imagined.

It was only an idea with a heavy dose of encouragement, being there for everything at the beginning, communicating with the adults in the building, buying pizza, and setting an example about how to pour energy into a performance. I honestly feel like this maybe the first time I have truly felt successful as a teacher for a group of music students. It is the ever so delicate balance between teachers doing and allowing, particularly in the field of music education.

Give them a fish and you feed them for a day; teach them to fish and you feed them for a lifetime.

And again, it is the result of these key ingredients: change, creating, and Eddie Van Halen.