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Interview with Jessica Lawson, June 7, 2013

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:12 - Early days in the career

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Partial Transcript: First of all I’d like to start off by asking you: when and why did you become a music teacher?

Segment Synopsis: Lawson talks about moving away from music therapy as her degree path and towards music education. She talks about feeling terrified on her first day as a teacher. She talks about the repetition involved in teaching elementary school music and the importance for new teachers to relax. She describes how teacher training could better align with the expectations of school administrators.

Keywords: B.Mus.; Bachelor of Music; Northport Elementary School; Northport, Alabama; Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary School; UGA; University of Georgia; administration; clinicals; curriculum; elementary methods; kindergarten; lesson plans; micromanaging; music education; music specialists; music therapy; paraprofessional educators; parapros; teacher training

00:03:38 - Highs and lows of teaching

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Partial Transcript: And how long have you been teaching?

Segment Synopsis: Lawson talks about the aspects of teaching that cause some to leave, including boredom and isolation from other adults. She talks about feeling proud of a particular group of students who took initiative to deliver a great performance of difficult material. She describes the challenge of dealing with bad behavior and the reward of seeing students explore music beyond the classroom.

Keywords: acapella; boredom; classroom management; elementary school; isolation; music education; musical notation; performances; repetition

00:08:10 - Fun in the classroom / other careers in education

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Partial Transcript: Tell me about a time when music teaching gave you hope.

Segment Synopsis: Lawson tells a story about two students who wrote a song with no lyrics, using only music as a submission for a writing contest honoring Martin Luther King Jr. She talks about using humor as a tool for managing classroom behavior. She talks about her boredom with teaching and interest in research leading her to consider careers outside the classroom. She describes her unorthodox teaching style.

Keywords: Black History Month; M.Ed.; Martin Luther King Jr.; Master of Education in Educational Psychology; UGA; University of Georgia; administration; elementary school; improvising; music education; parodies; pianos; research

00:15:17 - Motivating students / professional development

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Partial Transcript: Tell me about the best teacher you ever had, music or otherwise

Segment Synopsis: Lawson talks about her elementary school music teacher who devoted extra time and attention to foster her cello playing. She talks about motivating students by setting high expectations and challenging them. She talks about seeking advice from mentors and funding her own professional development to improve as a teacher. She talks about the bonus of learning more about the job when she mentored a new teacher. She tells a story about a poor student who brought her a gift after a death in the family.

Keywords: Title 1 schools; Title I schools; administration; cellos; classroom management; elementary schools; mentorship; music education; professional development; research; string and band programs