Stephanie Lewis - Music & Education Talks expert

First School Week Survival Considerations

Some tips aimed at music teachers starting a new school year

In this video, Stephanie aims at music teachers giving some tips to start the new school year with a fresh, productive, and positive prospective.

Released on September 5, 2018

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Hello, it's Virtual Sheet Music and me, Stephanie, with another short video on music teachers and schools. So, term has just started, at least in this part of the world, and already those gripes are starting to emerge. The annoying colleague, the boss who just doesn't get it. The class that everyone loves to hate. To top it off, resources have still not arrived, compromising the lesson plans and extracurricular activities you'd organized. Fantastic situation, normal.

Use the first week purely focusing on your classes and establishing expectations. For the older child, so maybe 9 or 10 years old and older still, explain what will happen in the course of the year. A brief overview of course content, maybe also inviting some ideas from the students themselves. This is known as co-creation and co-creation is a great way to create an alliance with your students as they become personally involved in their development. But do do this gingerly. The teacher is the boss and is the subject expert and one should never lose sight of this.

At a more general level, I'd also go over classroom and school rules, you know, behavior, manners, blah blah blah, but relate this to what their expectations from you are. Again, this creates further collaboration. For the still older student, I'd remind them of reports and the criteria you use for providing an objective marking scheme. Providing marking descriptors gives students the tools for personally grading their own and/or collective work, something that can also be done together with the teacher. At the end of the day, clear descriptors leave little room for debate about the quality of work produced. This produces agreement.

As for the little ones, well, games and songs are, well, the name of the game. But never in the name of having fun, always in the name of specific musical objectives. I don't know, learning about pitch or something to do with rhythm. Having said that, the collateral damage of said activities must be savored at all cost, particularly given children's increasing tendency to burrow down into their own little world of the iPad and smartphone. Having fun, working and playing together, different ways of communicating, body control, expressing thoughts, ideas, and emotions. The list goes on, but essentially these elements are about being human. Without this humanity there is no music.

So with concrete ideas serving as a basis of your first week back survival plan, you won't be reaching for a metaphorical life jacket in the form of a gin and tonic. Now as for the irritating colleagues, that'll be for another day. Ciao ciao.
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