General GCSE A-Level CPD

“I” is for Intent

In the new Ofsted framework there are Three “I’s” and the first “I” is for Intent. Intent is basically purpose, and in this blog I will be looking at the purpose behind some of what we do as music teachers. Our intentions are possibly really good, but are they actually positively affecting at the students?

”I” is for Intention

As a teacher my intention is to always ensure that my students learn, enjoy learning and get opportunities to extend this learning outside the classroom. But I guess it has been a while since I have really thought about the purpose behind some of my lessons, schemes and topics. Key Stage 3 is a great place to start with Intention, and I have been looking at my schemes of work in the last few weeks.

  • Why do you teach a particular topic?
  • What is the purpose behind a specific activity or topic?
  • How do you feel a scheme of work will affect the learners?
  • Have you thought about another way of doing things?

Time is precious in teaching and we often don’t have enough of it. But taking time to think about our Intentions is certainly a worthwhile activity. Take a scheme of work that you are not planning on teaching In a few weeks. Start having a look at it and think about the purpose of teaching it.

Start with Why

I read a great book over the summer about how we need to Start With Why. I feel like that is a good place to begin with Intention – Why are we teaching Blues, Reggae, Minimalism, Serialism etc. Why are we asking students to create an Ostinato? Why are we suggesting they read this sheet, listen to this piece or complete this essay. When you start with Why you begin to see the purpose, or lack of purpose behind tasks.

Starting with Why is also great for our Extra-Curricular programme as we begin to think through what we offer. Why do we have two rehearsals a week for orchestra and only one for choir? Why are we singing this piece when it is too hard for the choir? Is this piece actually right for the students in front of me. “I” is for intent and also rhymes with Why!

Long Term Plan

One thing I have realised is that if I am going to fully tackle this Intention topic then I am going to need to explain this to students. I see this as part of my long term plan for the year – “class this is what I intend for you to learn this year”. By laying out these intentions early on, students are then able to see how they are progressing. A task that has a hidden intention, or a lack of purpose, will be much harder for students to engage with. When I teach Film Music I feel like students really latch on to it. Why? Well because they see film music in action all the time and can clearly grasp the purpose. It is something they can experience and see the direct results of when they add the music to a piece of film.

So my plan is to look at the long term and share this with the students. I think showing them why we are going to study a piece or topic is a really good way of sharing intention and getting them on board. It will also be a good test for you as a teacher to see if your intentions are clear. “I” is for Intent shared with students.

Why Compose?

It is clear that we compose in order to make music. But there is so much more to it than that. I have been sharing with students what they will learn through a specific compositional task. Sometimes the purpose or intention behind a compositional task is to learn about rhythms or learn about chord progressions. I love doing a One Note composition where students have to think about everything except melody. When students know why they are completing a composition they will enjoy it more and learn more. We have to move away from – we are composing because we need you to get a GCSE in music!

Set Works

When studying set works at GCSE or A-Level it is quite good to look at the Intentions behind the study of that. Why this piece, this composer and this genre? What is the purpose behind the study of Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique? There are lots of questions like that and they can actually spark some interesting discussions in class. I don’t mean the “Why do we have to do this – because the exam board says so” I mean the – “Why is it that this piece from 1830 has survived and stood the test of time”. Those kind of questions are really good, particularly at A-Level. The intention for any Set Work Analysis needs to focus not just on the exam. It needs to focus on the Wider aspects of understanding the context and the history of history.

Start with I

When it comes to this new framework it is clear that we have to start with I. But I wanted to add something Beyond ”I” is for Intent. You do need to start with I – you! Letting any of this get on top of you is not a good plan. As music teachers I believe that we do so much and I put that in my blog the other day about Ofsted. I actually think that this new framework could swing in our favour. So start with you and don’t let any of this stuff bog you down!

And if you missed my previous blogs then do check them out:

Ofsted & Music Teaching
Deep Dives


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