The Guitar Man


I met Nina at a luncheon where she was seated next to me. When I told her about the Chalk and Chances project, she shared memories of Mr. Green, her fourth grade teacher. Nina even sang a song about state capitals she remembered from his class.

I remember my first day in Mr. Green’s class. When other teachers were writing rules on the board, Mr. Green was pulling out his guitar. Instead of lecturing us about his expectations, he taught us a song about expected classroom behavior. It started like this, “I promise to always do my best in reading, math and all the rest.” As the year progressed, whenever Mr. Green wanted us to remember something, he taught it with a song.

I am amazed at the things I remember decades later just because Mr. Green put them to music. I can name the American Presidents and all fifty state capitals. Well, I can’t say them; I have to sing them. I had difficulty mastering multiplication and division facts until I learned Mr. Green’s collection of math facts songs. I still use that strategy today. Whenever I have to memorize something, I put it in a song.

Some of my happiest memories from elementary school include Mr. Green and his guitar. He would sing silly songs just to get our attention and make us laugh. He would sing popular songs and invite us to sing along. Puff the Magic Dragon was a frequent sing along request. Whenever I hear that song, it takes me right back to fourth grade.

Nina’s story made me reflect on the different ways students learn. By putting content to music, Mr. Green acknowledged the needs of auditory learners. Singing along added the benefits of motor memory. Novelty and laughter infused positive emotional connections. How did a teacher's unique and engaging approach help you? Share in the comments below.

Wishing you an endless supply of chalk and chances-


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