Faculty Spotlight

Making music and learning matter resonates to the core for Brandman instructor

August 15, 2016 by Brandman University
Ron Boren

Ron Boren is an adjunct faculty member at Brandman’s Modesto campus.

When members of Brandman University’s Modesto campus went looking for an “EdTalk” presenter for the recent California Teachers Summit 2016, they didn’t have to go far. They turned to Ron Boren, an adjunct faculty member.

To say that Boren enjoys putting on a good presentation would be understating the case.

“I use music in the classroom, every single day,” said Boren, a regular speaker at the California Reading Association’s professional development conferences and a grade school teacher.

Boren discovered that what worked with third-graders and sixth-graders also worked with college students and teachers. He also knows how to gauge his audience. Sixth-graders respond differently than third-graders. Adults need even more encouragement.

The trick is to get them up and moving to music.

Tapping his ‘jingle gene’

That’s where his “jingle gene” kicks in. Boren crafts classroom and conference presentations around a series of songs: “Imma Be Mr. B,” “Mr. B’s PEMDAS,” “Don’t Be a Math Hater,” “Mr. B’s California Kids,” “Weave a Tapestry of Literacy,” and “The Reason Why We Read!” All can be found on YouTube.

The results, as Barbara Bartels, assistant vice chancellor of Community Relations for Brandman University put it, are “truly an inspiration.”

“Ron’s enthusiasm for making education fun and engaging is beyond outstanding!  Ron is able to capture the attention of the audience like no other. I enjoyed his spirit and his dedication to sharing his story with the other teachers in the EdCamp,” she said.

Brandman students are also the beneficiary of that enthusiasm, said Kathy Theuer, associate dean of the School of Education. “Ron has been teaching in our multiple subject program for several years and is a very popular and gifted instructor. He has a passion for teaching and an engaging teaching style, whether he is teaching online or at the campus,” said Theuer.

Boren said teaching at Brandman has helped him fine-tune his own skills. “I don’t want to be a fraud. If I teach it on Monday night, I need to live it on Monday morning,” he said.

Ron Boren in motion

Ron Boren gets teachers at the recent California Teacher Summit 2016 up and moving. It’s a technique he also uses in his sixth-grade classroom and when teaching future teachers at Brandman.

He’s been in their place

One of the reasons for his success as a teacher is the empathy he has for students who struggle.

“I was slow to start. It took me 10 years to get a bachelor’s,” said the self-described late bloomer. It wasn’t until a family friend hired him to work in a preschool that things changed. “When I walked into that (preschool) room, I thought, ‘What have you been doing with all these different majors? It was like a light shone on me.’”

Boren says he always loved working with children but never considered teaching because of his own track record in school. But once he found what he was really interested in, the rest of his education fell in place, eventually leading him to a master’s in teaching from California State University Stanislaus. Working on his master’s degree gave him a chance to write about his favorite topic: using music in the classroom for everything from teaching English skills to overcoming math hatred.

“The focus of my master’s was the whole range of movement and music. If we can remember lyrics to our favorite songs, why can’t we remember content?” he said. “Music makes it all stick.”

Music, motion at work

It also makes for presentations that can “rock the house,” which is how both Bartels and Theuer described the recent California Teachers Summit 2016 presentation where Boren turned his usual 90-minute presentation on “Make Music Matter to the Core” into an 11- minute talk.

Boren’s next conference gig will be at the California Reading Association professional development conference in Visalia in November. In March, he’ll head north for the Greater Edmonton Teachers Conference, where he’ll share the magic of music, movement and learning with 9,000 Canadian teachers.

It’s all, he said, “A testament to finding your purpose.”

California Reading Association
49th Annual Professional Development Institute – Nov. 4-5, Visalia (1 professional development unit available through Brandman University ). Ron Boren will present “Write On! Using Music for Narrative Prompts in Writing!”

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