September 2020 Southwestern Musician

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DISPELLING THE MYTHS OF TEACHING IN A TITLE I SCHOOL LEAN C M TIN

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US J & EZ JIMEN

e met during our undergradupopulation school, students might need to ate studies at Prairie View work after school or go home to take care of TITLE I STUDENTS AND MUSIC A&M University—two eduyounger siblings. These commitments aren’t cators of color committed indicators of disinterest in their education; PROGRAMS ARE NO DIFFERENT to returning home to serve schools they are a reflection of their family’s ecoFROM SCHOOLS WITH QUALITY much like the ones in which we were nomic instability. Instead of viewing these FUNDING OR FINANCIALLY ASTUTE raised. We understood the positive students through a deficit lens, understand impact our band directors had on us, them as students who need nontraditional DEMOGRAPHICS. AT THE CORE, and because of it, we were commitstrategies to teach them, and find ways to THEY ARE ALL BLANK CANVASES ted to paying it forward. Since then, create access for them to participate. This we’ve had the honor of working sidemay be especially true for teachers whose WITH THE POTENTIAL TO CREATE by-side to enhance band and other educational background does not reflect the COLORFULLY RICH EXPERIENCES music programs across the Houston environment or demographics of a Title I AND LEAVE LASTING IMPRESSIONS. area. During our time serving the school. Students in urban and low socioecoHouston ISD, we spent most confernomic schools often need teachers who will ence periods immersed in brainstormstand the test of time, get to know them, and ing discussions. How could we overcome the frequent challenges in be invested in their well-being. Once that relationship is established, our teaching environment? students can show they are committed to you and the content. Years of these honest, solution-focused discussions led us to create The Score, an urban music education podcast. Through it, THERE’S NO MONEY FOR GOOD MATERIALS OR INSTRUMENTS we offer urban music educators a platform to share their success stories. Our aim is to foster a renewed and positive conversation This statement is broad enough to be true for many. We instead of the metanarrative filled with assumptions and stereohave served in schools and music programs with $0 budgets, but types. What we offer in this article is based on our podcast’s epithis didn’t deter us from providing a quality music education. We sode 36, “Be Willing to Teach Us, Too.” consistently held fundraisers, solicited sponsors, and created a Regardless the type of school you teach in, we hope you will community instrument donation campaign. We did that to reduce gain a greater understanding for and appreciation of students like student fees so low that a lack of disposable income in our student us and the educators who serve them as you read our responses to families would not prohibit their participation. We also recomthe following myths about teaching in a Title I school: mend creating payment plans to help families understand your commitment to their child’s participation in your program. This might require some to reflect on existing biases toward the ecoTITLE I STUDENTS DON’T CARE ABOUT nomic stability of your students’ families. We knew these methods GETTING AN EDUCATION would be more work on our part. But we also knew they were the This is an example of bringing implicit or covert bias right things to do to ensure our students enjoyed the best music into the classroom. For example, in a majority Latino student education experience possible. 14 Southwestern Musician | September 2020