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Day in the life: Ms. Marci King

How Ms. Marci King, our Elementary Music Teacher, spends her day

During class, Ms. King switches instruments seamlessly, encourages students naturally, and teaches in a way that feels like play. When class time is over, the work continues still. As the Visual and Performing Arts Department Head, Ms. King organizes musical showcases, produces plays, and plans art exhibitions. It’s a busy, non-stop day, but it’s one that she “loves.” 

7:00 a.m.
After dropping her seven-year-old daughter off at daycare, Ms. King switches on a podcast for her commute. Glennon Doyle’s We Can Do Hard Things is her choice today but will listen to “any” self-help podcast. “They make me feel empowered.”

8:00 a.m.
Ms. King parks her car and makes the rainy walk into school. Today, she is met by Visual Arts teacher Ms. McColl. The two stroll into class together, say hello to Ms. Young, then part ways to their respective classrooms. Ms. King heads towards the music room, unlocks the door, flips on the lights and settles in. After catching up on emails— “mostly department head stuff” she explains—it’s off to the mailroom.

8:30 a.m.
Mail in hand, Ms. King heads back to her classroom, stopping to marvel at the newest art gallery on the way. “I love the art gallery,” she brims. Today, it is a Junior Kindergarten photography exhibit showcasing all their favourite things. Back at her desk, she gets in a quick breakfast (oatmeal with chia seeds, brown sugar, and walnuts—the same thing as usual) before her first class.

9:00 a.m.
Junior Kindergarten students appear at the exterior door, excited to be let in. Ms. King greets them with a big smile and an even bigger bottle of sanitizer. Greeted and sanitized, students head straight to the big blue carpet at the centre of the room and pick one of the musical notes adorning it (their “sit spots”) to take a seat. 

During a warm-up activity, each student sings their favourite season. “Faaall,” a young girl begins. “Auuutumn,” the boy next to her sings (we are still learning our four seasons in Junior Kindergarten!). 

Six things to know about Ms. King

On teaching
“I’ve been an educator for ten years and have taught at Meadowridge for three.”

On side gigs
“I have a small business teaching private piano and violin lessons three days a week.”

On pets
“We have one pet, a Betta fish named Marble, and we hope to one day have our own dog.”

On good habits (and good food)
“I exercise nearly every day but I'm a far cry from a fitness queen -- I love chocolate and have a massive sweet tooth!”

On shows
“I enjoy documentaries on Netflix, but I rarely watch TV or movies unless I'm folding laundry or washing dishes.”

On second languages
“I use sign language in some of my songs and games to build on inclusion and accessibility, and teach a bit of ASL to the students. We have performed pieces in ASL at showcases as well. I’m not totally fluent in it, but can carry on a conversation pretty well. It’s the only other language I can (kind of) speak.”

9:30 a.m.
Ms. King plays the piano while students dance around the carpet and match their feet to the beat. A fast-paced one has them scurry like mice, a booming one stomp and march. There’s no instruction—students choose how to move, how fast, and in what style. “This,” Ms. King explains later, “has students play with rhythm and feel it in their bodies before I’ll label and expand upon it later on.

9:40 a.m.
After a goodbye song, students ask in excited unison, “how many keys?”. Depending on how well the M-U-S-I-C essential agreements are followed, the class will move forward on a cut-out piano keyboard. Today, Junior Kindergarten agrees to three keys, which pushes them to the end. The class cheers. They have earned a free play day next class and will get to pick from their favourite classroom activities.

9:45 a.m.
After students say their goodbyes, sanitize, and head back to class, Ms. King has a few moments to check her emails before heading down to pick up her next class.

10:00 a.m.
Grade 1 students are still rubbing sanitizer in their hands when they pipe up with a question for their music teacher. “Do you have any new instruments today?” they ask, looking around curiously. Indeed, Ms. King’s classroom has many to see. In addition to the instruments students use in class, there is also a baby grand piano, violin, electric bass, and ukulele. 

10:05 a.m.
Students warm up with the same seasons activity. For this group, “aaall of them” is the answer most sung. After that, students practice a bit of music theory. Ms. King quizzes students, “which notes represent one beat?” she asks. Arms shoot up and a few students are picked to draw the notes. After that, Ms. King tests them again, “okay, how about two beats?”.

I listen to pitch, vocal technique and tone while also watching their posture and their ability to sing solo with confidence and improvisation. There’s a lot that goes into that little warm-up!

10:20 a.m.
After practicing these notes, it’s time to play them. Ms. King draws some notes on the board for students to follow with their rhythm sticks. After a few rounds, she ponders aloud, “I wonder if I changed some?”. Ms. King smudges a few notes and adds new ones in their place. Students practice that sequence before she erases and rewrites a few more.

10:40 a.m.
Ms. King quizzes students with how many string instruments they can name. The class manages 14, including the sitar, the violin, and the harp.

10:55 a.m.
Grade 1 students agree they have earned three keys, landing them on a free play day. Cheers ensue and students start talking amongst themselves about the games they’ll play as they line up for the door. Ms. King reminds her students to be quiet before heading back to class.

11:00 a.m.
After dropping off students back to Ms. Pitzey, Ms. King heads to the Early Learning Centre to pick up Ms. Higginson’s Kindergarten class.

11:05 a.m.
Back in the music classroom, students sanitize their hands and get settled in their sit spots. Ms. King goes around the circle, “what is your favourite sport?” she asks this time. Each student answers in a singsong voice. “Swiiiiming,” one girl says. “Swiiiming and skaaating,” sings another.

11:10 a.m.
After the warm-up, students grab their xylophones and bring them back to the carpet. Ms. King grabs one herself, setting up at the front of the class. Together, they practice hitting different keys, softly at first and then more powerfully. They practice mallet technique and playing together as an ensemble - not always an easy task in Kindergarten!

11:40 a.m.
“Is it okay if my friend says hi?” Ms. King asks her class. Ellie, her elephant hand puppet, is met by immediate laughter and cheer. The class breaks out into a song and dance about wrinkly elephants.

12:00 p.m.
Ms. King enjoys a homemade quinoa salad while catching up on some work. “As Department Head, I’m involved in all the art galleries, musicals, concerts and drama productions that go on at the school—that’s at least one a month!” she explains. Currently, she is producing Pirates! The Musical, the Elementary School production. With rehearsals the following day, she checks permission slips and student attendance to get organized.

1:00 p.m.
Ms. Pallister’s Kindergarten students arrive and get sanitized and settled in. Then, it’s on to the warm-up. “I listen to pitch, vocal technique and tone while also watching their posture and their ability to sing solo with confidence and improvisation. There’s a lot that goes into that little warm-up!” she shares later on.

The class practices their notes on the soprano and alto xylophones while students take turns on the bass xylophones.

2:00 p.m.
Ms. Warner’s Kindergarten class is practicing notes when students suggest they increase the tempo. The class breaks into a song that goes faster and faster and faster.

3:00 p.m.
Ms. King jumps on Zoom for a new student assessment. 

3:45 p.m.
Another Zoom meeting. Today’s Zero-Waste Committee meeting—Ms. King has served on the committee for three years—is focused on raising greater awareness and discussing a possible audit of the school’s practices. “I first joined the committee because I wanted to be more eco-conscious myself,” she explains, “I put into practice the things we work on at school, like reducing food waste and recycling, when I’m at home.” 

4:40 p.m.
Ms. King locks up her classroom and makes her way down the halls. After dropping off her student assessment to the Admissions Office, her workday is done. “It’s been a good day,” she smiles with a wave. “The students always bring so much joy to my days.”