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Erin Shrout (right) is a music teacher for grades 6-12 at the Insight School of Kansas. 

I have taught music for Insight School of Kansas for the last seven years. I teach grades 6-12, as well as adult students working to get their high school diplomas. Before teaching virtually, I taught kindergarten through fifth grade music in a brick and mortar school.

I decided to make the move to online teaching because my husband and I started a family. Online teaching allowed me to do what I love from the comfort of my home and still get to take care of my baby. It has continued to be an excellent fit as I now have welcomed a second child.

During my live sessions, students can chat with me while listening to music and watching videos. The students also really enjoy playing a game of Kahoot! every once in awhile.  I cover the “big ideas” of what the students need to know that week, and then encourage them to do the reading and online activities on their own before they complete the weekly assignments – these range from multiple choice and true/false quizzes to discussion boards, listening quizzes, writing assignments and unit exams. The following week I spend some time reviewing/re-teaching any tough concepts and then move on to the next “big ideas” and repeat the process. This helps make my classroom engaging – I try keep sessions light, fun, and interesting for all of my students regardless of their age group.

When I first started teaching virtually, I struggled with the idea of not being able to “see” my students live – how would I know if they were really with me? I have since learned many techniques and best practices to help me with these issues and to help me serve my students the best I can as a virtual teacher.

Another great perk of being an online teacher is not struggling with behavior issues like most teachers in brick and mortar schools. The part of Kansas where I taught in brick and mortar was a huge battle for me when it came to student behavior – I felt like a referee more than a teacher. I wanted to have fun and use music games to teach what I wanted the students to learn, but the students couldn’t get along long enough for us to get to do that.

I like to have fun with my students from grades six to adult! Most teenagers LOVE music, so it is a natural and easy class to tie in their interests.  Another one of my favorite parts of teaching online is knowing I am providing an option to students/families that need an alternative way to school. For some families, this is the only option that will work, and I love that we can help these families. By creating a fun and engaging environment for my students, I help kids every day by giving them a creative outlet and using fun and original ideas to keep them busy and distracted from any negatives in their lives.

I am excited about the new curriculum for my 6-8 music students first introduced this school year! From the lessons thus far, I’ve concluded that it is a very rich and interactive music curriculum that is going to continue to draw students in and deepen their knowledge even more than the previous curriculum. However, new curriculum or not, one thing is for sure: I love to inspire a passion for music as well of the love of learning in all of my students – teenagers and adults alike!

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