Mr. Christopher Little's Teacher Portfolio
Address: Available Upon Request
Welcome to my online teaching portfolio. My students, similar to my closest family and friends, have carved out a huge chunk of my heart just for them. I couldn't wish for a better profession. I get to teach kids what I love to do every day. In all honesty, I would do it for free if I could still feed my family. I wish that by viewing this portfolio you will see my pursuit of equity in education, my advocacy for music education, my desire to continue learning, and my passion to change the lives of young people. I've included my philosophy of education, a short biography, my career narrative, a resume, a few performances, and some of my work to look over such as lesson plans, my band's repertoire, programs, flyers, TV commercials, etc. Thank you for taking the time to view a little about me.
MY PHILOSOPHY OF
My philosophy of education is that all young scholars are deserving of high-quality learning opportunities and experiences. Scholars who enjoy a holistic educational experience undergo growth mentally, physically, socially, and emotionally. To carry on, scholars must have unparalleled access to instruction tailor-made to address the needs of every type of learner. Only this process truly represents equality and equity in education. The art's experience is a catalyst for these ideas and I aim to create this type of atmosphere where scholars can express themselves without the fear of ridicule or failure. Inspiring curiosity and ingenuity are essential components to creating beautiful art and to do so, educators must provide a safe environment where scholars are invited to share their artistic creativity, their ideas, and take risks. Five things have to happen for successful learning:
1) The teacher's role is to act as a guide
2) Scholars must learn through experience
3) Learning must be driven by curiosity
4) The music room must be a safe space and always a conducive learning environment
5) Applicable uses of technology must be used to connect to the 21st-century learner
Teaching and learning are more than acquiring facts and concepts. Teachers must not only provide scholars with content knowledge but also provide them with the skills necessary to develop inquiry. This process builds an appreciation for individual success, opportunities for both instant & delayed gratifications, and fuels life-long learning.
A SHORT BIOGRAPHY
Who Am I?
I was born in Jackson, Mississippi in 1983 and my earliest interactions with music involve my mother, grandmother, and youngest uncle usually having an impromptu blues or gospel concert. At the time I didn't appreciate having to be a ten-year-old DJ but as I reflect on those experiences, they were my earliest music lessons. Those countless hours of listening to my family do their best impressions of the Canton Spirituals, Dorothy Moore, or Sara Vaughan, instilled an attraction to a variety of musical styles.
My curiosity for exploration peaked during my fifth-grade year at Clausell Elementary. A trio of things that caused this: Spike Lee's Malcolm X, a black history project on Dizzy Gillespie, and my amazing music teacher, Mr. Guy Buford. Mr. Buford was an awesome musician, motivator, and educator. He started my eventual journey to the classroom. I gained a different appreciation for music by experiencing reading, singing, playing, and performing at an early age. I saw how much he enjoyed teaching and I knew I would love to do the same thing.
I joined the band program at Hardy Middle School under Mrs. Jennifer Lloyd. Mrs. Lloyd was a star teacher and our program thrived. She introduced me to trumpet and euphonium. I excelled and to this day, I model elements of her teaching style to this day in my classroom. She's a pillar in the band community. In addition to my performance in the band hall, I excelled academically. As a result, my mother wanted me to experience a more rigorous setting, so I attended William B. Murrah High School. At that time, Murrah was the best high school in the State of Mississippi ranking as high as #232 in the nation by USA Today. Dr. Eddie Peasant, current superintendent of schools in Starkville, was Director of Bands and a tremendous influence on my career. I learned how to be resourceful, how to work with students, and how to engage the community. He also had an all-star cast of directors: Ayatey Shabazz who is a published composer/arranger and owner of DevMusic; and jazz coordinator, Tony Winters who was the former Director of Bands at Provine High School where earned 20+ years of consecutive Superior Ratings in both marching and concert evaluations. This is significant because I've been privileged to encounter highly motivated and successful music educators during every phase of my public education. I would watch Mr. Shabazz arrange music for the band program and this is where I was introduced to theory, voicing, and orchestration. He would also give me my first opportunity to arrange for the marching band. Mr. Winters was in the latter stages of his career and he would work with the gifted students in the Jazz Ensemble. We toured, recorded CDs, and gigged across town. He taught me the value of allowing students to express themselves and showcase the full potential of their musical talent. He also taught me the value of appearance. I don't think I ever saw him wear the same suit twice. I participated in all of the honor bands throughout middle and high school. These included All-City, Festival, Solo & Ensemble, Capital District Honor Band, All-State Honor, & and the State Band Clinic.
After graduation, I attended Jackson State University on both band (Euphonium) and orchestral (Tuba) scholarships concentrating on Music Education. I completed both undergraduate and graduate work, gaining my Bachelor's and Master's Degrees in Music Education. I actively participated in the world-renowned “Sonic Boom of the South” Marching Band, Symphonic Band, Wind Ensemble, Brass Quintet, Tuba/Euphonium Ensemble, and Chamber Orchestra. I also served as a graduate assistant to the band department and upon completion, taught adjunct classes at the university. During this time, I would refine my understanding of "teaching" by observing some of the best in the world. Dr. Lewis Liddell was the Director of Bands and the first person I encountered at the university. He is the visual embodiment of "Old School Band Director". His knowledge of literature, musical content, and instrumental pedagogy is mind-blowing. From him, my concept of marching & symphonic band came full circle. My concept of interpretation is directly connected to the wide variety of literature provided by applied instructors: Dr. David Ware, Dr. Robert Blaine, and Dr. London Branch. The most influential professors were Dowell Taylor (Ret. Director of Bands/Music Technology) and Ms. Lannie Spann McBride (Music Education). They taught me the importance of establishing connections with students and how to deliver quality instruction tailor-made to meet the needs of students' individuality. Again, I've been privileged to have great music instructors throughout my educational experience.
ACHIEVEMENTS & GOALS
After carefully studying my interests, skills, and expertise, I have decided to pursue employment in music education on the collegiate level and to do with tenure, I need a Ph.D. or D.M.A. I believe I would be great for this position because I enjoy encouraging young people to teach. Our profession has a high turnover ratio and younger teachers staying the course is a rarity. I would guide students to reach their full potential as musicians, increase their comprehension of music pedagogy, and introduce students to the nuances associated with teaching music. I would also like to raise awareness for support of the performing arts in the urban community. This is a particular interest of mine because I've worked in the inner city my entire career and witnessed the discrepancy in resources between my district and neighboring districts in suburban areas. It's not because the funds are not there, more so because inner-city school districts often lack the structure to direct funding to the performing arts. I would also consult with professionals in the field to create new ideas and philosophies to accommodate the needs of the 21st-century learner. As a result, providing a truly equitable educational experience. I want to teach aspiring music educators what to teach, how to teach, and how to gather the resources one may need to teach. By teaching at an institution of higher education, I would thoroughly enjoy giving back to the profession that has given me so much.
I've already taken steps to achieve my goal. I've taught and been successful in teaching instrumental music at Siwell Middle School and Jim Hill High School. I've had the opportunity to affect the lives of thousands of students. Not to mention, I've never had a certified assistant band directors outside of volunteers, so I've become very efficient. At Siwell in 2006, I was able to work through my musical deficiencies early on. I would learn instrumental concepts right along with the students and I began to understand how students learn "quickly". While teaching at the middle school, I received my Masters in Music Education Degree at Jackson State University. During this time, I was allowed to work with the Tuba/Euphonium studio, teaching applied lessons. I was also a graduate assistant with the band department assisting the marching and concert bands.
Once I attained a certain level of success at the middle school, I was promoted to Jim Hill in the spring of 2010. So far, my experience with the parents and students has been terrific. I don't have a complaint outside of funding and student schedules. I've also had a chance to grow as an arranger, writing more than 100 selections for my band programs. Also, our bands have consistently received Superior and Excellent Ratings at marching and concert evaluations. I co-founded a non-profit, the Mississippi Music Institute in 2011, and this organization's goal is to provide meaningful after-school and summertime musical enrichment opportunities for young people. To carry on, to keep my programs afloat, I've acquired skills in media, advertising, media relations, and innovative teaching tools. I designed this website, flyers, programs, radio spots, TV commercials, and a host of other things to promote each of the programs I've been involved with. These are a few of my accomplishments:
Doubled the size of Siwell Middle School Band Program from 80 to 160
Various Years Superior Rated Marching & Concert Band
Various Years Excellent Rated Marching & Concert Band
Generated scholarships totaling more the $4,900,000
2011 Established Mississippi Music Institute 501c3
2014 Mr. Hollands Opus Award Winner
2015 City With Soul Music Awards "Most Outstanding Marching Band"
2016 Resolution-City of Jackson City Council
2016-2017 Millsaps College Honorary Marching Band
2018 Special Recognition-City of Jackson City Council
2019 McAllister's Deli Star Teacher (1 of 3 chosen nationally)