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Enjoy: Your First Day

Summer is gone and September is here! Enjoy is my new blog series looking at how we can approach the coming year. You might not associate the word enjoy with work, but I like to try and enjoy all that I do. So lets start with day 1 – How can we enjoy that first day back?

Inset

It is highly likely that your first day will be an Inset day, I know mine is. Inset days are a perfect way to start a new term. We get to ease ourselves back in and re-learn how to be a teacher. This year, unlike any other, I welcome the chance to have an inset day.

If you have an inset day as your first day, then do enjoy it. I have a few thoughts on Inset days and how we can enjoy them

  1. Try to say hi to as many people as possible, especially if they are new.
  2. For goodness sake don’t be the teacher that is moaning about the summer being over. It is over, live with it!
  3. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. Take each inset session one at a time and don’t try to over-think too much.
  4. Remember that inset days are there for you to learn and develop as a teacher. Enjoy the chance to think about your own practise.
  5. Enjoy the free lunch – speaking to my state school readers! We don’t often get a free lunch, so make sure you have everything offer!
  6. Smile, be happy and just focus on the positives!

Enjoying the First Day

I love the first day of term so much. The familiar faces of students and the faces of new students eager to get on with life in the school. There is always a buzz around the school and it is so exciting to think about all the opportunities ahead. This year will be a little different for a number of reasons, but it is still going to have the same kind of energy.

This year all of the students are going to need us more than ever. 2020 has thrown a lot at us and what we are all striving for is some sense of normality. Enjoying your first day is crucial and it is also crucial that the students enjoy it too.

So we do need to be kind and we need to be nice. We need to ask them questions, offer support and really listen. For some students (and teachers) it will have been a tough few months. As teachers we really will play a part in rebuilding our students. We want them to enjoy school and get as much out of day one as possible. Let’s not overload them with worries about exams and how they are going to catchup. It is DAY ONE!

Over the years I have met a few teachers who “Don’t smile until Christmas”. If you are one of these teachers then I apologise, but I think that is a load of rubbish. Smile as much as you can before Christmas! You will enjoy the first day if you go into it with the attitude of wanting to be there and wanting to teach. And our students will thank us a great deal.

Remembering the Bigger Picture

I have struggled over the last few weeks when I have thought about the year ahead. As Music teachers we are facing a very different kind of term to normal. Rehearsals, concerts and events are going to be very different or potentially non existent. We are going to have to do things differently in and out of the classroom.

But what I have realised in my thinking is that we are just part of the whole Big Picture. Yes, Music matters! But, there is so much that is going to need to happen on the first day. We need to remember that and remind ourselves that 2020 is a rather unusual year. We won’t enjoy the first day if we stress and worry about what we can’t do. Let’s just enjoy it by focussing on what we can do!

My plan is to therefore be understanding of SLT and other colleagues. The first priority is the students and getting them back into school and back on track. This doesn’t mean that we just stand aside and keep quiet about music. But we may need to be flexible. And I think I will enjoy the term more if I just take it one step at a time. Day one is going to be about assessing where the school is at and considering what I can do to make a positive impact.

Our leaders need us to be positive and supportive. We will get music back on track, but day one might just be more about Covid restrictions than anything else. So it is worth not letting everything get on top of you on the first day, that way you might enjoy it more!

September 2020

And so here we are, September 2020. After the most unusual few months of my life, I face another year of teaching.

And I cannot wait!

I love my job you see, and I can’t wait to be in a classroom again. The thought of actually teaching, writing on a whiteboard and sitting at a piano – so exciting!

I am looking forward to trying to get some music making happening, but I am also just excited about the curriculum. I would love it to all just be normal so that I can focus on a November musical and a carol service. But hey, that isn’t going to happen.

So I am just going to go into the first day seeking to enjoy it and come out smiling. I am excited to see colleagues and even more excited to see the students! It is going to be a great week and I think I am ready for it.

I hope you enjoy your first day. Take it one step at a time and don’t try and solve everything in one go. Listen, think, ponder and plan. But don’t get overwhelmed and be kind to yourself. Your wellbeing and that of the students is paramount. We are all in this together and soon it will be the weekend.

Enjoy your first day back and all the best for the year ahead!

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