Reflection is a big part of Christopher DiMassimo’s teaching approach and one of his greatest strengths as an educator. “After each class, I go back to the drawing table and hit it hard to reflect on what worked, what students need to be more successful in the next rehearsal, and how I can ensure that they continue to improve during our next class period,” he said
In one of his “40 Under 40” nomination letters, a colleague wrote, “Chris is equal parts curious, self-motivated and humble. He is never afraid to ask questions to ensure that he understands the components in a project or a lesson.” Another colleague wrote, “Chris’ first concern in any decision he makes is ‘how will this impact my students?’”
DiMassimo already integrated technology into his classroom presentations at Rachel Carson Middle School, so moving to a virtual learning environment during the pandemic did not slow him down. In fact, he was selected to be on the curriculum team last summer to help develop distance learning materials for elementary, middle and high school band directors because the 2020-2021 school year would start remotely. The team worked with the U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own” to “request the development of videos to assist beginning band students learn their new instruments,” DiMassimo said.
DiMassimo always looks for ways to connect with his students and develop “an authentic, genuine connection,” he said. “Hard work is tough to sell these days, but the pursuit of creating beautiful music together, working diligently toward common goals, and experiencing the payout makes it all worth it! I’ve found that anything I can do to ensure success and satisfaction along the way makes all the difference for students to remain engaged and committed through the ups and downs in our journey.”
He also asks for input from his students, especially since the pandemic started. “This is critical, especially during a time of distance learning,” DiMassimo said. “Encouraging honest, thoughtful feedback through surveys and informal check-ins is a great way to figure out if any of your students are feeling lost, overwhelmed, underwhelmed or unmotivated, and to take action to reach each of them.”
He is happy to share his knowledge and experiences with other educators as well. Along with his mentor, Dr. Arris Golden, DiMassimo co-wrote a two-part article in the North Carolina Music Educator Journal about best practices for student teachers and mentor teachers. “This period of development in a teacher’s career can be a game changer,” he said. “Developing clear communication and a strong, honest and trustful relationship can make all the difference in ensuring a successful student teaching experience for both parties.”