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Interview with Judith Spears, July 15, 2014

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:13 - Early days in the career

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

Segment Synopsis: Spears describes the journey to becoming a music teacher and the experience of learning on the job in her first year. She talks about being unprepared for all the aspects outside of the curriculum. She talks about how reaching out to her mentors would have benefited her early on.

Keywords: Gwinnett County Public Schools; choral; chorus; high school; mentor; music education

00:03:48 - Teacher training / Reasons for staying or leaving

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Partial Transcript: What can you say about the quality of your teacher training?

Segment Synopsis: Spears talks about how she would have benefited from more classroom experience during her teacher training. She describes how volunteering led her to become a public school teacher. She talks about why she’s a good fit for teaching music and why others leave.

Keywords: BME; Bachelor of Music Education; chorus; high school; music education; private lessons; private piano teaching; volunteering

00:07:30 - Rewards and challenges

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Partial Transcript: Tell me about a time when you felt proud to be a music teacher.

Segment Synopsis: Spears talks about the pride of seeing students discover a joy for music as well as the challenge of dealing with bad behavior. She tells a story about teaching a difficult avant-garde piece to a particular group who rise to the challenge with a great performance.

Keywords: avant-garde; classroom management; music education; nature sounds

00:16:12 - Teaching style / Impact on students

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Partial Transcript: What were some of the funniest moments?

Segment Synopsis: Spears talks about her appreciation for the type of humor that occurred in her all-boys classes. She talks about her polarizing style of teaching. She talks about learning to appreciate from her best teachers the lasting impact she will have on her students.

Keywords: classroom management; high school; men’s chorus; music education

00:21:16 - Motivating and mentoring students / Professional development

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Partial Transcript: How did you motivate your students?

Segment Synopsis: Spears talks about her motivating her students by expressing her own enthusiasm for the music. She describes the approach she took to mentoring students throughout her career. She talks about the impact professional development events had on her teaching.

Keywords: chorus; high school; in-service conferences; music education; workshops

00:25:26 - Learning from her son / advice to young teachers

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Partial Transcript: And if you were to think back on a student that has taught you more than

Segment Synopsis: Spears talks about the unique experience of having her son as a student. She talks learning from him how to work with the changing voices of adolescent boys as well seeking his knowledge after he became a college professor. She shares her advice to young teachers to not become distracted by obligations or people outside of the classroom.

Keywords: Choral Conducting; D.M.A.; Dr. Sam Spears; Fairmont State University; administration; chorus; high school; music education; red tape