“We must remember why we have stepped into this profession.”
Kahlea Qualls, Knapp Elementary
As the vocal and general music director (K-5) at Knapp Elementary, Kahlea Qualls is absolutely certain of why she entered the teaching profession.
“I became a music teacher, because I could not see myself doing anything else,” she said enthusiastically. “I wanted to give students something that I never had, and that is the aesthetic love and beauty of music.”
A teacher for four years (three years with DPS), Kahlea believes the best challenge of the profession is building personal relationships with students – seeing them everyday and helping them overcome difficulties and learn. With music education, calming students can be even more of a task (think kids and noise-making toys). While other teachers are quieting classroom chatter, Kahlea manages excited kids discovering their new musical passion.
Working with Little Kids Rock, a non-profit organization focused on music education, Kahlea is teaching students a love for learning by featuring contemporary music that students know and appreciate. Most recently, her class has been learning the Bruno Mars hit “Uptown Funk.”
“The most difficult thing about the music classroom is getting the students completely quiet the first time with their instruments,” she said. “Classroom management has been a challenge, but I have realized when I hold the students accountable to what they are saying and doing, the behavior takes care of itself.”
Kahlea shared the following as her top five most-challenging aspects of the profession:
- Classroom Management: “If this is not in place, a teacher cannot teach effectively.”
- Discipline: Students need to know that they are held accountable for their actions and that when they do something wrong there will be consequences, according to Kahlea.
- Time Management: “I try to find the balance of teaching, student-to-student interaction and activity, I believe that students will learn more when there’s a balance within that class period.”
- Fun: “I know it can sometimes be difficult to keep a high level of passion,” Kahlea said. “We must remember why we have stepped into this profession, and everything that we teach the students from rhythm, to beat, to math and science, I believe must be taught whole heartedly and in a fun way!”
- Integrity and communication: Students need to know that they can trust their teacher, according to Kahlea. This is a lesson she learned from her mother, who is also a teacher in Massachusetts. “She always says, ‘Students don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care.’ I think that’s very true.”
To illustrate that last point, Kahlea shared the story of one student whose needs go beyond classroom lessons.
“I have one student who always hits other students when he does not get his way, or he walks out of the classroom if he does not receive the instrument of his choice,” Kahlea said. “I spoke with him on his behavior, and how he needs to start using his words to communicate. I also encouraged him to count if he feels himself getting upset, and ask me if he can go to the ‘cool down’ center, as opposed to just walking out of the classroom. Although this child still has a long way to go, I am realizing that the seed that I have planted is beginning to take root, and that he is starting to implement what I am teaching him.”
It’s just one example of why Kahlea remembers she joined the profession.
If you know of a DCTA teacher that should be featured here, please email their name and contact information to Amber Wilson – DCTA Secretary.