Canaseraga Central School District
September 2002 - June 2006

Where I Have Been
As far as first jobs go, teaching in a small school might be one of the best first experiences one can have as an educator.  In Canaseraga, I was the only instrumental music teacher and wore many different hats.  I met with 4 large ensembles, taught all my students lessons, and did my very best to keep the program afloat, organized, and moving forward.  Working with students in grades 4-12 helped me learn about the idiosyncrasies of each age group.  At first it was difficult to switch gears between the different ages, however I found myself in the unique situation of being able to teach similar concepts to different age levels. (Bruner, Manhattanville Curriculum)

In my oldest ensembles, diversity was most evident.  Before I came to Ithaca, I sort of knew that there were different types of learners.  At the time, I thought that there were two classifications that learners fell into: visual and aural.  It wasn’t until my Psychology course however that I discovered kinisthetic learners and furthermore understood that these three modalities were not separate classifications, students could be a combination. (Learning Modalities) 

In retrospect, most classroom time during my first couple of 
years was very much a one sided endeavor.  There was 
probably more instruction taking place than learning!
At that time I was actually afraid to open the floor to their 
thoughts and commentary. (However, this had a lot to do 
with discipline problems that I was having.)  In many ways, my first year in Canaseraga was a giant power struggle.  Some of my students looked for every possible opportunity to draw the wrong kind of attention upon themselves and ultimately, I felt as though there were not a lot of students there who were interested in buying what I was selling.  It is safe to say that I was both a little frustrated and dismayed with my teaching. Before I came to Ithaca, I sort of knew that there were different types of learners. from a retired band director, Mr. Luther Hoffman.  “Greg,” he would say, “you really need to choose your battles.”  Each student has their own level of participation, they will naturally do only so much.  I soon learned that to encourage them beyond that point is called inspiration.  Attempting to modify their established patterns of behavior however, was discouraging.  Words and phrases such as “can’t, used to, back in the day,” and “no” were much too common.  I littered the room with motivational posters and even adopted my a trademark phrase, “oh yes you can!”  Saying this with a smile over a long period of time eventually eliminated the word from my room.  Students would roll their eyes and smile if that C-A-N-‘ T word ever mistakenly slipped out.  (Behaviorism)

The other really important lesson that I learned about classroom management is that I needed to better determine the severity of student disruptions.  “Is this student preventing me from teaching the content that I 
want my students to learn?”  This became another 
significant consideration.  For a while, I was going
crazy as I overlooked classroom disruptions.  How-
ever the more I ignored them, the less attention 
they received, and thus the problem took care of
itself.  (Behaviorism, Thorndike, Revised Law of 
Effect)  The other interesting thing I realized was 
that many of these students were actually very good at ignoring trouble!  When you are in the same class as everyone else in your grade from Kindergarten to graduation, you get pretty good at figuring out how your peers like to react and behave.  After studying for two summers in Ithaca, I now realize that through my gradual reinforcements of positive student behavior, I successfully quelled in-class disruptions and opened new avenues of instructional opportunities.

My experiences and my teaching at Canaseraga continued to improve over the four years that I was there.  I felt that my students learned about music, shared in meaningful musical experiences, and began to value music as an important part of their lives.  I was an active member of the school faculty and was even approached to run for vice-president of our teacher’s association.

During my four years as a teacher in Canaseraga, I feel like I proudly turned the tide of the program.  I feel confident that many of my students will maintain their appreciation for music beyond their high school experiences.  When I left, the morale and achievement was up, we went on a few band trips, earned three gold ratings at NSYSMA Majors, and for its size- our school parade band became a proud ensemble of pageantry and showmanship.  

Students sometimes have a funny of way of letting you know they think you’re doing a good job.  Sometimes they don’t even intend to compliment you, but from your perspective it ends up coming out that way.  One memorable compliment came from a flute player during my third year of teaching, “Mr. Kane, I think that you make us think and concentrate more in these rehearsals than in any other class in school!” I now realize that through my gradual reinforcements of positive student behavior, I successfully... opened new avenues of instructional opportunities. To better understand the history of this job; the teacher before me had been denied tenure because she supposedly could not control her students.  While she had definitely been a victim of small school politicking, it was certainly obvious that many of these students were accustomed to running the show.  They were acting exactly how they had been reinforced to act. (Skinner, Thorndike)

Wanting more than anything to do a superior job and to save the program from shambles, I aspired to conquer this unruly classroom.  I learned a couple of tremendously important lessons about discipline during this first year.  One came
Associated Links
Classroom Connection 
Canaseraga Central School District
My Old Canaseraga Band Website Classroom%20Connections/291175CA-1986-4C77-BF70-27F128C80CF5.html