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Fernando Navarro
Case Study: EG, 8th Grade Music Class
May 5, 2014

I. Introduction

My case study is EG. I picked this student because he is bright,

but he struggles with discipline in almost in every class. Not only did he
tell me that he does not like my class and does not like music, he also
told me he is not happy at our school, Pikes Peak Prep.
EG is currently in 8th grade and used to play the clarinet two
years ago, but then stopped in favor of wanting to try the Trombone.
His attempt at trombone was unsuccessful. He was unable to be
successful in the trombone due to his poor attitude. EJ is Hispanic but
does not speak Spanish. His Father resides in Mexico and the father
does not speak English, so there is no communication between them.
I have noticed that EG behaves well with female teachers. He
does not get many referrals from his female teachers. I think the
problem is more about his necessity of male leadership in his life. His
mother is strict. Sometimes she scolds him in front of me about his
behavior in my class or even when he gets in trouble in other classes.
At the beginning of the school year, EG had some great classes
with me and he was participating well. He was by no means a stellar
student, but he had an acceptable level of participation. For some
reason, his scores in my class suddenly began dropping. He refused to
work and was disruptive. Since he is a natural leader, he caused even
greater distractions by his behavior. He also seems to like getting
attention from his peers. EG was my student last year as well. The 7 th
grade group in which he was was notoriously difficult for all the
teachers at Pikes Peak Prep. At that time he behaved more as a
follower and tried to be one of the bad guys. He got in trouble

several times in all of his classes, and ended up at the office frequently.
An interesting fact about him is that his mom works at the school as
administrator. Mom is always open to help and supports the teachers.
She does not ignore the recommendations that the teachers give her in
regards to working with her son. She is a single mom with three male
I have had several one on one conversation with EG. We
sometimes talk about his behavior and how we can improve his
behavior. He is always telling me that he does not want to be at Pikes
Peak Prep. He constantly states that he hates the school. He gave me
several reasons why he has these feelings towards our school. I talked
to mom and the last conversation that we had, she told me that she
does not know what to do with EG. Last month, EG kept telling me that
he thinks I hate him. I talked to him about that, asking him what it is
that makes him feel that way. His response was that I always got him in
trouble. However, I rarely send him to the office. Instead of that, I talk
directly to his mother and he gets in trouble with her.
By the second week of March, EG was doing better in my music
class. He turned in his work and I told him that I was excited about him
turning in his work. He kind of showed me a smile when I said that to
Last year, he got a D/60% in my class. This year he has
averaged an F/55% in my class. The reason has been that he has not
turned in any work and also he has not been practicing his instrument
as he should be. In his first two quarters he got Bs and Cs in different

classes. Pikes Peak Prep implemented a new curriculum this school

year called blended learning. Instruction is combined with an online
program during the school day. Students start their day being instructed
by a teacher and then go on to spend time on the computers doing
reinforcement activities and assessments. The computers do not
replace teachers in the classroom; instead, students are responsible for
their progress and they are free to go at their own pace.
In my research of EG, I found some interesting facts about him.
First, his TCAP scores having been going down or rather stagnant:

Secondly, MAPS test scores:




2013-2014 Fall



2013-2014 Winter



This is the Normative Data Overview

II Assumptions
During my meetings with EG, and also in all the information that I
found from his family and teachers, I found that EG is described as a
helpful person, and a smart student. From testing in 2011 to testing in
2012, EGs scores dropped. Pikes Peak Prep had a big change in the
2012-2013 school year, when EG was in 7th grade. In the transition from
the 11-12 and 12-13 school year, more the half of the staff left the
school. The mass exodus of teachers and the instability altered the
environment of the school. In addition, there were other changes
happening at the school. The school grounds were expanded and under
construction during the fall of 2012. There used to only be one building,
but the school acquired several modular classroom units. Because the

modular units were not ready at the start of the school year, there were
lots of transitional classroom and changes from week to week. At one
time the school rented a building close to the school that was really
disgusting, smelly, uncomfortable and unclean. The environment of this
building really impacted the students. The school also accepted several
new students who had a history of negative behavior or had been
expelled. According to staff who had worked in the school for years, the
school used to have a reputation of being very strict with order in the
It appears that EG has a dysfunctional family. When I say
dysfunctional I do not say it in a pejorative way. His mother is single
with three kids. She works a lot every day, with an average of sixty
hours per week. EGs brothers are both older than he is. The brothers
have a good reputation in school. EG has a good relationship with them
and I can see that they are the only male representation at home. EG
also does not get much quality time with his mother since she works a
These factors can affect a person. I can see that EG was
struggling with structure and he is thirsty for attention. In addition, the
difficult job of being teenager, combined with the earlier points, I come
to the assumption that these were affecting his entire environment. His
search for attention, and his role as a leader in his class ended up
shaping his personality.
Last year four of his peers were threatening to usurp his position
of bad boy and consequently he began to prove that he was still the

bad boy leader by acting out even more. At that time, EG started
having problems in all his classes, including his favorite ones. The fight
for his role lasted the whole last year, and EG did not stop competing
with the other bad boys all year long. The consequences were almost
fatal for his school career, because he almost got expelled. His grades
were down and he started having a bad reputation in our school.
In the beginning of this school year, the eighth grade class had
fewer students than last year, and this became a good ingredient for
the eighth grade class as a whole. Also, these students have a great
homeroom teacher who provides stability and structure in her
classroom. This entire situation has helped EG improve his academic
grades. The only problem was that he kept refusing to work in some
classes, including mine.
As far as music class, EG did not change his behavior, I tried to
figure it out and I came to the conclusion that, besides his struggles in
his family life, his age, and all the facts that affected him as a student,
EG bucked against male authority. His biological father is Mexican, and
the image of Mexican males conjures up bitter feelings. Therefore, his
struggle with male leadership is also greater because I am Mexican and
he told me that I remind him of his dad.

III Literature Review

Robert J. MacKenzie, Ed. D. (2009) Setting Limits in the
Classroom: How to Move Beyond the Dance of Discipline in
Todays Classroom. Inspiring with Positive Motivation.
Limits define the path we want students to stay
on, but limits alone may not motivate them to
head in the intended direction. Cooperation is
still a voluntary act. Short of using
consequences, what can we do to inspire their
cooperation? How can tip the scales in our
Having an unhealthy relationship with students affects the
efficiency of teachers classes. Of course, these relationships have to be
professional and respectful. Teachers cannot go to the place where the
limits of professionalism and friendship are joined. A teachers job is
that of education, not of friendship. Teachers can be mentors but not
go-betweens. A teachers first duty is educate, and part of education is
Motivation does not naturally come to all teachers. However,
motivation is an essential ingredient of teaching. Therefore, in order to
motivate students, teachers need to have the knowledge of our
students. If teachers do not know their students, teachers will not be
able to recognize students strength, and as a result, students will not
be sufficiently motivated.
When it comes to motivating students, most teachers head in one of
two directions. They take a positive approach and use generous
helpings of encouragement and rewards to inspire the behavior they

want. Or they take a negative approach and rely primarily on threats,

punishment, and coercion to force children into cooperating. There is
not much in between.
Negative messages inspire resistance, and disconnect the
successful teacher-student relationship. The author clarifies that
teachers should use more positive talking to students in order to get
their attention and get their commitment to their class. Humans tend to
use more negative vocabulary to subordinates because that makes one
feel that he or she has control of everything. Or maybe, a person is
afraid of losing a position of respect, and consequently act in that
degrading way. Therefore, a teachers job is motivating students by
knowing their weaknesses and their strength. A teacher must always
use a positive vocabulary in order to build up a healthy relationship
with students.

Susand L. Haugland

Crowd control: Crowd Management and

Effective Teaching for Chorus, Band, and Orchestra (Second

Edition) Creating a Team.
An ensemble that feels like a team and works together
performs better than one that doesnt. When you see or
listen to a group that has this team spirit, you
immediately recognize it in the energy of the
performance. Sometimes, in schools with many
socioeconomic levels or culturally diverse populations of
students, getting students to come together and work
as a team is one of the most difficult parts of managing
a classroom that you can tackle

One of the problems for teenagers consists of the stressful

assumption of putting on a certain faade. Their appearance is
important and they try to fit in, they think it is the ultimate tool for
making them happy and accepted. Teenagers tend to look for a group
that shares the same needs. Sometimes, they will do anything to fit in.
They crave to be accepted, they thirst for acceptance, and they fight to
have a role in their society, even if it is an unhealthy role.
Haugland points to team-building as tool for better behavior in
music class: either we play instruments or sing, it does not matter, we
need to be part of a team. Building a group breaks the ice in the
different little societies that are prevalent within a classroom. This also
helps to construct better relationships with students, accepting and
celebrating the differences that the classroom community has. Creating
an association between students ignites respect and tolerance to

Fay, J., & Funk, D. (Jim Fay David Funk Teaching with Love and
Logic: Taking Control of the Classroom
Self-concept has become a key factor in todays
education because so many kids have a poor one. There
have been innumerable teacher-training programs and
student curricula developed in the recent past to deal with
this educational malady. They were developed in response
to a needa severe need. An understanding of how we
arrived at this point may give us, as parents and

educators, insight into effectively dealing with the

Society had expectations of the extended family. Kids
were to watch adults and learn from them how to solve
problems. Adults were expected to give good advice and
be examples for kids to follow. Most certainly there were
exceptions, but, for the most part, a kids self-concept was
not an issue, because kids were developing their own selfconcepts through struggle. To know what to do for a kid
without a knowledge of that kids intimate variables is
often little more than a hopeful shot in the dark.
We need to address self-concept in school because of its
importance to student performance. However, we also want to be
effective in the long haul. Within the Love and Logic approach, selfconcept is developed, not from a workbook, but from the influence of
people who matter in a kids lifethe magic people who model
appropriate behavior and, by the very way they think, speak, and act,
affect who that child turns out to be.


My intervention with EG started on February 10 th, we were
meeting once per week. I already had a meeting with his mother, I

explained to her my goals for EG and she was totally open to work with
In our first meeting we just talked about different topics of life. I
wanted to know his environment and his ideas about life. Then, we
started to talk about music class, I asked him to be honest with me
about my class. He did not say too much but he told me the same thing
as he told me before. His rejection of music class was not ad hominem,
his reason was that he does not think that music class was helpful for
him in his future. He told me that he despises playing an instrument
and that he does not how to read music and does not really understand
rhythm and musical notation. I told him that I wanted to help him on
those areas where he is lacking knowledge.
As a reward I told EG that I would talk to his mother about his
improvement so that he could have more privileges from his mom, and
also having a chart with his improvements would give him
accountability for his work. He agreed with me and in this second
meeting we started to talk about fundamental musical elements.
We started with rhythm notes such as quarter notes and quarter rests.
These exercises were easy for EG and he told me that he already
understood all that information. I told him that I just needed to see if he
understood each element of music, even basic musical components.
In the third week, we studied a little more complicated rhythm.
We worked with eighth notes and eighth rest combining them with
quarter notes. He really got it, and he told me that he had not worked

on this kind of rhythm. He mentioned that he thought this work was

going to be more difficult but he found it easy and fun.
In the fourth week, we worked on rhythm dictation. I clapped
different rhythms and he had to write with rhythm notes what he heard
from my clapping. At the beginning it was a little bit difficult for him, but
he caught on quickly and was doing a great job. I thought maybe the
fact of being one on one was really helping him to feel free and more
confident in my class.
The problem of his behavior at this moment was due to his fear
of failure. Since he did not have the knowledge, he could not really feel
confident to participate in my class. And since he wanted to feel
accepted, he did not want to show to his peers that we were going to
In the fifth week, we started working with musical notation. We
reviewed clefs and we talked about why we need clefs in music. He was
curious about it; he told me that he never thought about that question.
He took for granted that clefs were something that it was there in he
needed to learn. What I notice at this moment is that EG is intuitive in
different areas. He was asking more during our meetings. In normal
class, EG was participating more, he even was giving me the correct
definitions of different musical terms.
We also started to apply everything learned during our meetings
with his instrument. He plays percussion. Clapping rhythms are much
different than playing a percussion instrument. He tried and he
achieved it, he felt more confident playing his instrument.

In the sixth week, we kept working with the same kind of

rhythms, but now we applied some abstract elements. Some of these
elements which I call are dynamic signs (volume), for EG was a little bit
different because he was always playing flat, without any change of
volume. EG noticed music sounds different when we apply dynamic
In the seventh week, we worked again with some musical notation.
Even though most of the percussion instruments do not have musical
notation (solfge), this is part of the state standards for music class.
EG worked with two worksheets, one was treble clef notes and the other
one was bass clef. He did not really enjoy this work but he finished and I
noticed that EG was paying attention when I was explaining treble clef
notes and bass clef notes.

Self-monitoring for academic improvement appears effective with EG. I
found that he was more confident with my company and also, I think
the most important, playing his instrument. Getting to know students is
a great tool for education. Teachers cannot succeed if they view
students as numbers or machines of test takers. Students are looking
for acceptance in the classroom, and teachers are one of the people
that can give this to students, all the while being respectful,
professional, and smart in developing relationships with students.
Communicating with parents is always a great tool. Teachers need to
find the way to keep in touch with them so as to be able to work in

cooperation with parents to be more successful and to get to know

students more with the help of the family. It is also beneficial to
understand the community, the society of a school, and the cultures
and subcultures in order to understand the context of each family more
This intervention helped me to identify weaknesses and strengths of my
students. I was able to stop taking things for granted, and start to look
for better ideas of how to engage my students in my class. It was so
easy to blame students if they had a bad behavior, because I always
thought that students had to like music class just for the fact of being a
special class. How I was going to embrace changes if I did not even
know my community? I did not know my families and the most
important things for my students. My school, Pikes Peak Prep, has the
privilege of having different ethno groups such as Hispanic, American,
and African-American that bring richness and diversity to our
EG took advantage of having these private music class sessions with
me. He improved a lot in my class; my relationship has improved
because we spent time working together. I hope EG can bring all his
smartness to his classes. I could see that he is a smart student and
when he finds comfort in a good environment he is able to success.

Malpractice involves lack of skill in performing professional

duties, no matter what the profession (Fay & Funk)

Robert J. MacKenzie, Ed. D. (2009) Setting Limits in the
Classroom: How to Move Beyond the Dance of Discipline in
Todays Classroom. Inspiring with Positive Motivation.
Susand L. Haugland

Crowd control: Crowd Management and

Effective Teaching for Chorus, Band, and Orchestra (Second

Edition) Creating a Team
Jim Fay David Funk Ed (1995) Teaching with Love and Logic:
Taking Control of the Classroom