I always prefer to Enjoy the things I do, and in this blog I look at how you can Enjoy Remote Teaching. I have blogged on this topic of “Enjoy” a few times because I think the word Enjoy is better than Survive! We can enjoy planning, being a HOD and the year ahead. Whilst we face challenges I think it is always important to look for positives and find ways to overcome the difficulties.
I hope that this blog helps you to Enjoy Remote Teaching. It might offer some tips and advice or just a reminder.
I want to be honest at the start of this blog and say that I don’t always Enjoy Remote Teaching. I start with this because I think honesty is important and you must be honest with yourself. Some days are long and hard, with far too much staring at the screen. I have reached the end of Remote Teaching weeks with a headache, feeling wiped out.
So be honest with yourself about your limitations, strengths and weaknesses. If you feel wiped out and exhausted, then make sure you rest. Don’t think that you have to be a superhero and take the time to rest and relax. Weekends are not really meant to be full of working – and whilst I know that is a challenge at times, be kind to yourself.
The only way to truly Enjoy Remote Teaching is to not push yourself too far without any down time. When I feel exhausted I get away from screens, listen to great music and go for a walk or run.
Give Lessons a Personal Touch
Enjoyment will often come when we draw on our own musical interests. Taking time in a lesson to play a piece of music you love will often lead to a great lesson. It is really enjoyable to share your own experiences of music and share why you love something. This might then lead to further discussion and students will have fun sharing what they love. Music is such a massive subject when it comes to repertoire and learning opporuntities. Working with students to find music that you all enjoy will lead to engaging and positive lessons.
It is so easy at the moment to look on Facebook or Twitter and get both motivated and frustrated all within one scroll! We can be motivated by an excellent quote from someone and then frustrated by some positive teacher who is having a great time – Sorry if that is ever me. We can find it hard to see images of what other schools are doing. It can be upsetting when we want to provide for our students but simply don’t have the time, money or energy to do it. We all have different home situations and may not be able to make glitzy videos. And budgets may not allow for the latest online software that everyone is raving about.
We must not fall into the trap of comparison because it really is the stealer of joy. You have to remember that you can only do what you can do. I would say that staying over from Social Media at the weekend is a good idea because it will often make you feel guilty that you are not working when you see others are!
Don’t Do Too Much
The best lessons I have ever taught have always been the simplest. The lessons where discussion is have over a piece of music, or a simple practical task turns into a great piece of music. Lessons don’t have to be “all singing all dancing”. It is all too easy to think that Remote Teaching means making PowerPoints, voiceovers, movies and resources. We spend hours making worksheets, creating examples and preparing model answers. This is all well and good, but sometimes we need to keep lessons simple. Listening is at the heart of music and I like to do as much of that as I can with my students. I use Microsoft Forms to create questions that students can then fill in. Simple, but effective.
So don’t worry about making every lesson perfect! Do what you can and make sure that some lessons are live and some are not! Give students time to work on things and make sure that they don’t feel pressured and overwhelmed. Sometimes students like to stop and just listen to music!
Don’t Do it Alone
I guess I bang on about this quite a lot – don’t do it alone. If you are a one person department then you will need support, and there is so much out there. You will most likely be in a Facebook group, or be part of some network for music education. There are people, organisations, hubs and companies out there that are ready to help. I couldn’t get through a week without some of my trusted colleagues and friends. I work a great deal on my own in my school, but I also get to work with colleagues in other schools. I feel so lucky to have the MTA (Music Teachers Association) as my main source of contact for all things Music Education. But I can also recommend lots of other ways that you can get help, advice and resources:
- Music Mark
- Beat Goes On
- Music First
- I Can Compose
- Out of The Ark
- Sing Up
- Sing For Pleasure
- Voices Foundation
- Berkley Ensemble
- Music Teacher Magazine
- Future DJs
- Naxos Education
- Teacher Toolkit
And this list could go on and on! If you think there is something or someone to add to this list then please place it in the comments below! The message is simple – Don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t do it alone!
Enjoy Remote Teaching
The real trick to enjoying remote teaching is remembering why you got into this job in the first place. You didn’t become a teacher so that you could be perfect. You certainly didn’t become a teacher with any sense that you would be someone online tech wizard. You became a teacher to help, support, guide, inspire and teach children & young people. You became a music teacher because you love music and want others to love it to.
So if you are going to Enjoy Remote Teaching than you must remember why you got into it in the first place. Not every online lesson will be perfect and you won’t please everyone. But your students will appreciate all of your efforts and you are making a difference. Don’t forget the power you have to chance a young persons life – and this can easily be done on Teams, Google or Zoom.
Being a Music Teacher is the greatest job in the world and I urge you to remember this when you feel down and overwhelmed. I hope these tips have helped and I hope that you won’t struggle through the coming weeks on your own. Get in touch if you need anything and get people around you to help. Forget the one or two complaints and remember all of the praise you get. Don’t let one lesson bring you down, it is just one lesson.
All the best for the term ahead. We are all in this together, all learning together and all doing our very best!
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