by Doug Hassell, Director of Bands, Carroll H.S., IN

Seeing our kids perform as part of the Bands of America Bowling Green Regional yesterday was so cool for multiple reasons. First and probably the most obvious, I love this band program at Carroll. These kids, the parents, the staff, bus drivers…everyone that it takes to teach and move the small army of people that is the Charger Pride for any event, I applaud ALL of you. Quite literally, each one of you plays an integral part in allowing these kids to be rock stars for eight minutes on a football field. At Carroll, we talk a lot about how disproportionate the amount of time spent in preparation is to the time actually in performance…it’s practically insane how much time we spend together…not performing. So, we believe that THAT TIME has to be valuable and meaningful for all involved…just as much as the performance time (if not more-so).

Yesterday was a minute-by-minute reminder of that.

Being fortunate enough to have our kids perform again in finals amped that whole experience up, but here’s the really cool part – I got to see not only our band family, but several others doing the same thing. At BGSU, literally EVERYWHERE you looked you could see moms fixing uniform problems; dads setting up and tearing down props; staff members and directors listening to Judge commentary; Judges smiling, listening, watching, giving feedback on current achievement as well as information for future growth…and the kids – so many band kids, smiling…laughing…focusing…singing…playing…marching…dancing…crying…eating…interacting…growing.

It got me thinking: If standardized tests were administered like marching bands competitions, the people who grade them – and often those who write them, the test company people – would be standing in front of the students, looking into their eyes, seeing them sweat, smelling the odor of their efforts, watching them breathe…while they are taking their “test.” If standardized tests were administered like marching band competitions, the test company people would assess the students in exact same audience as the parents who put them there, would stand on the same “performance field” with those who taught the students, and would provide live real-time feedback to both the students and the teachers, in the context of the performance environment in meaningful context with direct application to why what the student is doing is good or not.

As I have listened to some judge commentary, one thing that is clear: those who do the adjudicating are more than likely all of our biggest fans. They’re rooting for us, they’re desiring to be entertained and engaged by our students and the shows they perform because they know how valuable what we do is. They also know how hard what we do is, and they recognize that. I love that people who TRULY UNDERSTAND what we as educators are trying to do in spite of the obstacles placed before us by education lawmakers are rooting for us and they are helping us get better.

We are constantly seeing on both public news and social media how we need to have people who can be accountable, authentic, creative, independent, and also work as part of a team where they understand that their actions at any point can have long-lasting effects on others around them. Last night, I was fortunate enough to be a small part of seeing thousands upon thousands of teenagers pour their hearts into something that will only be a small part of their high school career, but in all likelihood, will be how many of them define and remember their high school career…and probably have an impact on the kind of person they grow up to be.

MANY KUDOS to all involved in running, participating in, watching, and performing in not just the one event we were at, but to ALL of them throughout the country. THIS Is where some of the best learning and growing in the country is happening…on the field.

doug hassellDoug Hassell is in his 20th year in public education in the state of Indiana and is in his 7th year at Carroll High School in his hometown of Fort Wayne IN, where he also received his Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from Indiana-Purdue University @ Fort Wayne (Now Purdue Fort Wayne).

Editor’s note: Thank you to Mr. Hassell for his permission to share this post.