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Interview with Luther Harris, January 28, 2017

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:12 - Buford Middle School / Early days of music teaching

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Partial Transcript: I'd like to start by asking you: how long have you been teaching?

Segment Synopsis: Harris describes Buford Middle School and his various duties there. He talks about the positive experience he had at the beginning of his career. He talks about how his high school music teacher inspired him to become one himself.

Keywords: BMS; Frederick Douglass High School; V.H. Moody; Vanable Moody; band

00:03:35 - Required workload / Empathy for students

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Partial Transcript: When you think back on your days as a student, is music teaching

Segment Synopsis: Harris talks about the amount of extra work teachers do that students don’t see. He stresses the importance of remembering what it’s like to be a middle schooler and to have different expectations of them than of yourself as a teacher.

Keywords: V.H. Moody; Vanable Moody; middle school; middle schoolers

00:07:13 - Experience at the University of West Georgia

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

Segment Synopsis: Harris talks about the valuable skills he learned at the University of West Georgia, including how to articulate his points well and playing every instrument. He talks about being assigned non-music related tasks that helped prepare him for teaching.

Keywords: Bachelor of Music Education; Dawn McCord; Josh Byrd; UWG; University of West Georgia

00:11:02 - The rewards of teaching music

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Partial Transcript: You know, when you said that you’ve been teaching for four years

Segment Synopsis: Harris describes how seeing the pride and accomplishments of his students keeps him drawn to teaching. He talks about how they develop a team-first mentality and his way of leading by example.

Keywords: Middle school; band; brass; discipline; middle schoolers; woodwinds

00:14:21 - Classroom management

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Partial Transcript: But one thing I don't have an issue with is classroom management.

Segment Synopsis: Harris talks about the value of relating to one’s students and knowing what’s going on in their lives. He talks about being a mentor, not just a teacher, and how showing you care leads to better performance and behavior. Harris says it’s important for teachers to not expect perfection of themselves in the early stage of their careers.

Keywords: Discipline; Malcolm Gladwell; Outliers; mentor; middle school; middle schoolers; role model

00:21:11 - Reasons teachers leave

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Partial Transcript: Let me ask you this: why do you think - and I think we’ve actually already

Segment Synopsis: Harris talks about the underlying and superficial reasons that cause teachers to leave the profession. He talks about working with, not against, a challenging administration and how to earn their support.

Keywords: Music teaching; insecurity; school administration; self-worth

00:25:27 - Proudest moments

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Partial Transcript: So what’s been one of your proudest moments as a music teacher?

Segment Synopsis: Harris describes the pride of his students earning perfect scores in their first Large Group Perfomance Evaluation. He talks about the satisfaction of seeing students take on leadership roles and build comraderie.

Keywords: LGPE; Large group performance evaluation; band; leadership; middle school

00:31:42 - Inspiration from students

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Partial Transcript: When you think back on students you’ve had, is there one that sticks out

Segment Synopsis: Harris talks about being inspired by a particular student who flourished in the program despite incredible adversity in his personal life. He talks about how his students keep him motivated through their hard work.

Keywords: Middle school; band; determination; inspiration