Working backward as a teaching philosophy may have some people scratching their heads, but this approach is one that has served Brian Teed well at Wakeland High School. He explained that in order for end goals to consistently be met, staff, students and the administration must agree on the strategy and approach to reach that goal. “Music education is very much a team effort,” he said. “My students are part of the process of working backward, and they know what to expect. Students hold one another accountable in a positive manner since we are all striving to perform at our highest ability as a cohesive ensemble. It creates a sense of ownership for each member.”
In one of his “40 Under 40” nomination letters, a parent wrote, “This collective ownership of goals and expectations makes the band function like a large family. My daughter loves the feeling of being accepted and included.”
Another parent wrote, “Brian connects the dots between what students do on the field, in class and how they prepare for auditions. He has invited well-known clinicians to emphasize strategies/goals, and he has elevated the students to understand music at an advanced and intellectual level.”
Teed isn’t afraid to shake things up — he made major changes to the marching percussion program and the staff. He also added a second spring percussion ensemble concert and limited it to high school students, who “would play a little bit more challenging music and focus on new commissions or specific artists, who would work with us,” Teed said. The joint high school and middle school percussion concert was scheduled later in the spring, “which allowed the middle school students more time to work up their solos and ensembles, gave the high school students another performance opportunity, and shortened the length of our cluster concert significantly, making it more enjoyable for all performers and audience members,” Teed said.
“Kids learn differently, and Mr. Teed adjusts accordingly,” another parent wrote in a nomination letter. “He engages them in the process as they pick music, develop skills and audition for different instruments. This approach gives them a stake in the outcome and encourages life skills like problem-solving, critical thinking, goal setting and relationships.”
Read about Teed's unconventional but effective teaching philosophy of backward planning.