Dealing with COVID-19: An Interview with Paul Shimmons

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Dealing with COVID-19: An Interview with Paul Shimmons

paul shimmons

Last week we took the time to have a phone interview with Band Director Paul Shimmons. Paul’s been a band director since 1991 and has been at the same school since 1996. This continuity has allowed him to become an integral part of the community which is great for his students and their families.

We’ve interviewed Paul in the past to share how he uses technology in the classroom because incorporating technology into his program is one of his passions. He’s known for it throughout the country and even has his own blog about it.

Technology has now become very important with many schools throughout the country and world closing down because of COVID-19. Here’s how Paul is dealing with the current situation and how he’s still connecting with his students and their parents.

When asked what the most difficult thing relating to this is, Paul said he feels like school has come to a grinding halt currently because his school, and a lot of others, aren’t 1-1. He’s struggling with how to connect with all students and how to make sure they’re getting his communications.

Right now, he’s using the band website, a Band Facebook Group set up for members, parents, and friends of his bands along with the Band Twitter account to help communicate with his Band community. He also uses Google Classroom so that he can share documents and other resources. One tool that he’s used in the past, but hasn’t used it during this situation yet, is Remind. Remind is a tool he uses to send mass text messages to parents and students alike.

To stay in communication with his colleagues he communicates via Facebook, Twitter, texting, and email. He’s part of 2 Music Educator Facebook Groups that are very helpful. One is specific to Band Directors in Michigan and the other is open to Educators anywhere that are creating content online.

To deal with the uncertainty for the rest of the year he said he’s not planning specific content right now that is required for students because not every child has access. He is making use of a few of the music companies and organizations that have given free online musical content during this next couple of months. This allows those students that do have access and want to keep learning to be able to.  This is a huge asset to those students and is only possible because these companies have stepped up to support the music community.

If they are able to return to school this year, he has music in mind that they could play for a spring concert and other events that typically happen each spring like graduation. He’s chosen music that they’re already familiar with and that’s easy to learn because they would have very limited rehearsal time to prepare. He has also started the yearly spring time planning for the next school year.

Paul’s advice to other music educators to help them stay encouraged is to stay connected, stay creative, and to share your talents with others. He’s connecting with other music educators online through listening to podcasts, reading blogs, and learning through YouTube. The additional time he has gives him the chance to learn new teaching ideas and techniques.

We’d like to say thank you to Paul for taking the time to share this information!

Over the upcoming weeks we’ll be sharing more stories about how music educators are dealing with the current situation regarding COVID-19.

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