Living in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii residents are very aware of the high cost of bringing in experts and professionals for workshops.
So when I read about the Suzuki Principles in Action (SPA) course in a Suzuki E-News bulletin, I immediately alerted my colleagues during the next Suzuki Association of Hawaii teachers’ meeting: “Look, the SAA will pay the airfare and teacher fee if we get ten people! Just ten people! Let’s do it!” Our SPA chairperson, Chad Uyehara, took the bull by the horns and persistently called and emailed Hawaii teachers, polling them for the best weekend and best schedule, communicated with the SAA until we had a plan, found us a meeting space and equipment, and provided yummy snacks to last us the whole weekend.
Louise Ching, a participating cello teacher, was impressed with how kindly and thoughtfully Joanne Melvin ran the course. “It was highly informative and non-confrontational,” she shared, adding that “the communication aspect of our job is so important, because we all need to master that to run a business.” Louise also found that “watching the video clips of master teachers working with such a variety of students was really eye-opening.” Janice Trubitt, a teacher of violin, cello, and piano, wasn’t sure what to expect in this class, and left the workshop “definitely knowing the need to evaluate our teaching skills periodically, and how to do this so that we can monitor how effectively we are applying Dr. Suzuki’s principles in our teaching.”
All of us were deeply aware and appreciative of the careful thought and preparation that the SAA SPA committee put into this course. We loved the video clips that were tailor-made for us Suzuki teachers, the extremely well-organized and clearly written handbook, the nice balance of activities, and the informative and guided discussions. Even the ice breakers were a hit! Most importantly, we learned new approaches that we could immediately incorporate into our teaching. “The role-playing exercises were so helpful because we all felt, ‘I’ve been there, I’ve struggled with that,’” said Julia Clark, a violin teacher. The workshop did a great job of removing some of the fear and mystery about videotaping our teaching, since each of our videos was watched only by ourselves. In the process, we also formed lovely bonds with other teachers in the class, including two from another island, and with the instructor. We topped off the event with a dinner at a Japanese-Italian fusion restaurant where we were joined by Joanne Melvin’s family.
The SAA has wisely created this course as a preparatory step to its Practicum course, encouraging teachers to consider taking the Practicum next. Please consider hosting a SPA weekend in your area. It was easy to organize, and it’s only one (enjoyable) weekend of your life. If we could do this out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, you can certainly do this in your town. We promise that you’ll have a great educational experience and make some new good friends!