A Shot in the Arm

Susan Collins National Board Certification, Professional Development, Teacher Leadership

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Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow. – Anthony J. D’Angelo

Registration ✅
Accommodations booked ✅
Transportation arranged ✅
Family and Pets covered ✅

I was off to the Arizona Music Educators’ annual state conference!  I am practicing core Proposition 5: Teachers are members of learning communities.

For various reasons, this is only the second time in four years that I have attended this conference. Just like the first time I went, I learned a lot in the sessions, had conversations with talented and energetic music teachers, and came home with new ideas and renewed energy for my classroom.

I am NOT an extrovert. I do not engage in small talk well, and I HATE “working” a room. What I do enjoy is conversations with individuals and small groups about topics that are important to me. Why and how to teach music to children, advocate for programs, and navigate budgets are some of those topics. I also had the opportunity to present a session on National Board Certification this year. My session was slated for 4:30 pm on the last day of the conference. I can assure you all of the teachers in the room embody Core Proposition 1: Teachers are committed to students and their learning!

Here are some of the highlights of attending the conference:

  • Spending time will colleagues from my district that I don’t see often
  • Eating at great local restaurants (not something that’s abundant in my small remote town)
  • Meeting educators that have left the classroom and ventured into the world of providing professional development.
  • Learning about a completely online music education conference and being invited to submit a proposal for a “session”
  • Being introduced to the Feierabend Kodaly sequence
  • brainstorming ideas for improving general music in my local district.
  • learning about Title IV funding
  • Sharing with other music educators about National Board certification
  • Being asked to submit an article to the AZ Music Ed news about National Board certification

I’ve had a couple of days to reflect on the conference. I am making a plan for how to move forward. Here is what I have done already:

  • I made contact with my district point person to dig into Title IV funding.
  • Planted seeds to collaborate with general music teachers in my district that didn’t attend the conference to put together a scope and sequence for everyone to follow.
  • implemented three activities in my classroom that I learned at sessions

It’s been an action-packed week! I’m energized and focused. Ready to push through the 3rd quarter of school and into the end of the school year.

The Celebration of Accomplished Teaching is this weekend. I’m not attending this year, but last year I was part of the team that transformed the ballroom into a red carpet venue to honor Arizona’s new and renewed National Board-certified teachers. I love the energy in that event. Hundreds of amazing educators in one room, looking like the rock stars they are, celebrating the highest accomplishment a teacher can earn.

The Teacher Leadership Institute is fast approaching. In Tucson on June 15-17, more amazing educators will gather to deep dive into elevating student voice. I hear that registration is filling fast, so register now to be part of this great event. (insider tip: the food and office supplies are amazing too)

What are some ways that you keep your irons sharpened?
What events do you look forward to regularly?
Which ones have been milestones in your teaching career?
Which ones are still on your list to attend?

I believe that one of the greatest gifts we can offer our students is to practice life long learning.



photo credit:


Susan Collins began her teaching career in 1991 in rural Mississippi. She served in 4 different communities in central and north Mississippi as a music educator, mostly elementary general music with one year as a middle school band director. She stepped out of working full-time in the classroom for 9 years when her children were very young but never left teaching. She set up an early childhood music studio and taught music from birth to age 5 (with an adult caregiver). Susan moved to Kingman in northwest rural Arizona in 2016 where she teaches k-5 general music. Susan achieved National Board Certification in the fall of 2016, just after moving to Arizona. She has served as a 2017-18 Arizona Hope Street Group Teacher Fellow and a Candidate Support Provider for National Board Candidates. She is passionate about advocating for the needs of rural schools and ensuring that every student receives an excellent education. When she is not teaching, advocating, or writing about education issues, she is outdoors hiking, reading, and going to musical performances. She can often be found off the grid pondering her next writing piece!

Comments 2

  1. Austine

    I also love the dinner to support new and renewed National Board teachers. I think that this event is what helps me look forward to the upcoming events that are going to happen in the 3rd quarter. It is a great way to get things in order and remember why we do what we do.

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