Featuring Travis Weller '95
Travis's graduate school experience
(Profiled: December 2011)
How did you connect with this job
What attracted you to this
What are the most gratifying
aspects of your job?
What has been/was your biggest
challenge as a first-year teacher?
How did your time at GCC prepare
you for the teaching field?
What advice would you give to a
current pre-service teacher in order to better prepare for his or her future
What job search tips would you
give to GCC students?
How did you connect with this job opportunity?
a week it was. In late August of 1995 I was 72 hours away from leaving
for a Graduate Assistantship at the University of Louisiana at
Lafayette. At 9:30 p.m. my phone rang, it was the Principal at Mercer
Jr.-Sr. High School. He got my home number from Dr. Arnold. He cut right
to the chase informing me that the band was two days into band camp, the
director had turned in her resignation, and could I interview on Friday.
I delayed leaving for Louisiana at the request of then Superintendent
Dr. Connelly (GCC Adjunct Professor for many years). He called on Sunday
evening to let me know I was their candidate, and that I should come to
a board meeting on Monday night, and “wear a tie.”
Being a grade 7-12 Band Director allows you to experience a wide range
of students in terms of ability and interest. It also has opportunities
to provide many different experiences in instrumental music through
performance in various groups—each of which are able to play a wide
range of styles and meet a host of performance demands. This was a
to my family, to my girlfriend’s family (now my wife) which provided
personal support system, and close to my mentors and friends which
provided a system of professional support. The opportunity in Louisiana
would have been nice, however looking back on the past 17 years of my
career this could not have worked out any better. I am a blessed man in
that regard, and eternally thankful.
I get to work at something I love. I get to share with students and lead
them in an art form that I love. To watch students be transformed as
people and musicians through music is an awesome experience.
What has been/was your biggest challenge as a first-year
One of the things that is sometimes still a burden for many teachers are
the non-teaching responsibilities and demands on your time. Classroom
management, content knowledge, communication skills, professional
responsibility and courtesy are the easy part. Music administration is
something that does not get enough depth in the methods classes—from
communicating with parents and booster groups, long range planning of
trips and concert schedules, yearly planning of extra-curricular
rehearsals, and financial planning for large equipment and uniform
purchases are just a few items I had to learn on the job.
How did your time at GCC prepare you for the teaching field?
I left GCC with great undergraduate teaching and leadership experiences
in addition to content knowledge and management skills. I am always
grateful for the individual attention and instruction that was afforded
me during my experience.
What advice would you give to a current pre-service teacher
in order to better prepare for his or her future classroom?
Begin getting field teaching experience often, and get them in
places outside your comfort zone. If you came from a rural high school,
get some pre-service experience in an urban population. If you came from
a large school, go to a small school. This is good practice regardless
of your discipline.
Align yourself with a music educator who you aspire to be. Serve an
apprenticeship with a director who you get to know through extra
experiences at a summer band camp, a musical, or through teaching
private lessons. Compare their teaching about what you know about your
own—could you teach in a position similar to theirs? Could you teach
in a style similar to theirs? What would you do or seek to be different?
What job search tips would you give to GCC students?
Remain connected. The music education world is highly connected through
these apprenticeships and unofficial partnerships. You must be able to
use what you know effectively to get noticed—but who you know and who
you are come in to play. As important as those two traits, others need
to know who you are (core of character) and what you can do in
situations that matter. A former assistant of mine is now the Director
of Athletic Bands at the University of Hawaii because of that today.
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Travis's graduate school experience
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