23 ideas for 2023

It is the start of a new year and I must admit I didn’t blog as much as I would have liked in 2022. One thing often leads to another, and when all is said and done, sometimes the day job and family comes before the blog! But it is a new term and I thought you might like to try 23 ideas for 2023.

Why try new?

You may have been teaching for 18 years like me, or maybe this is your first year. You might be a subject leader, head of department or trainee. This might be the start of a new chapter in a new school, or maybe you are taking on a new role this year. Whatever stage you are at you can still try 23 ideas for 2023.

Trying new ideas in teaching is sometimes tricky because we get stuck in our ways. Thinking differently is very much the mantra of Apple and Steve Jobs created an amazing product range through such different thinking. It is also the subject of my first read of 2023 – Think Again by Adam Grant. I am inspired to look at what I do, change things up and think about things in a different way. Trying something new doesn’t need to mean big change, or even lasting change. It might be that we do something, and it doesn’t work. Failure is sometimes the best way of learning and I am itching to keep learning in 2023.

23 things to try in 2023

  1. Make sure you finish one day of the week on time and don’t work late.
  2. Start listening to an entirely new genre of music – it will make you a better music teacher.
  3. Join Music Teachers Association and become part of a growing network of music teachers.
  4. Read a book about education that will help you in the classroom. Don’t be put off by the thoughts of reading about work stuff.
  5. Talk to someone at work who you don’t usually chat to. Learn from them, encourage them and ask them what they have planned for 2023.
  6. Tidy up that cupboard in your department that you always think about and always avoid!
  7. Get your students to organise an event – maybe a small recital or soiree that showcases soloists.
  8. Look at your extra curricular provision. Add something new and take away something that maybe doesn’t work.
  9. Start following music teachers and other educators on twitter. And whilst you are at it, unfollow accounts that steal your joy! And whilst you are at it you can follow me on Twitter.
  10. Drink more water at work and generally focus on how you can stay healthy in a job that is often all consuming.
  11. Book some CPD that will help you. This could be something online and I know that Passing Notes Education have some great courses coming up.
  12. Sign up for Music Teacher Mondays – this is a monthly zoom that I run with my friend Liz Dunbar. It is an informal zoom where you can come with questions and leave with answers.
  13. Start a blog of your own. Don’t worry about who will read it, use it to just gather your own thoughts. You will find that people will read it and you will help people – that is the best thing about blogging!
  14. Start listening to podcasts. You could walk to work, or take time out in the day to have a listen. It doesn’t have to be a music education one, but I can recommend Teaching Notes from Music Teachers Association. I also quite like the Off Menu Podcast, The News Agents and The Listening Service.
  15. Go and see live music. You can often get tickets to concerts, shows and gigs at a good price. Get in touch and I will tell you all the things I have enjoyed! I love a trip to the opera – and it isn’t as expensive as you might think!
  16. Get in touch with a local music teacher that you haven’t met and just chat over ideas! I know how much I value the support of others.
  17. Stop reading this blog now and go and make a cup of tea. Or have a big glass of water – I covered that in number 10!
  18. Change the posters or photos in your music room. You are in there a lot, and it can get boring looking at the same thing. Taking time to sort out a classroom is always worth it, but just feels like a slog at the time.
  19. Do something musical for you – join a choir or play in a local band. It is always nice to play and sing, I only wish I did it more.
  20. Decide that you are no longer going to use the word BUSY to describe your life! Work out boundaries and get comfortable with living life! Tough I know, but I have banned the word busy and I find it has reduced my stress levels.
  21. Subscribe to this blog so that you never miss a post! And if you ever have any ideas then please share them with me – you can comment below and give me some tips of your own! I love it when people share ideas and I love sharing them with you! Sorry that 2022 wasn’t a big year for blogging!
  22. Go through your calendar and work out what you can TAKE OUT or AWAY. Also, add in time for you, block it out every week so that nothing gets in the way of your own time and space. Sometimes we need to think about what we don’t need to do as much as we need to think about what we need to do.
  23. Book a meeting with your Head, Senior Leader or CEO to tell them all your plans for music. But I challenge you not to moan, or complain, or ask for anything. Just tell them what you have planned and why music is crucial and amazing.

23 ideas for 2023

Well there we are, 23 ideas to get you thinking, I hope at least one is useful. I guess if I were to add one more thing that is simply, be kind to yourself and enjoy what you do as much as you can. Look for positives but also don’t suffer in silence. Music teaching is the greatest job in the world, but it isn’t always easy. I find that I just need to always remember that I am making a difference, and you are too!

Have a great year and I look forward to hearing from you with your ideas!

1 comment

  1. Great suggestions James. Also reassuring that I do some of these already and a good reminder/encouraged to try some of the others.

    I’ve got a few suggestions of things that I’ve tried in recent months after having a bit of a dip in my confidence with teaching and suffering a bit of burn out I think… Here’s some things I’ve been trying and will continue to try in 2023…

    1. Something I started at the end of last term which is still a bit of a work in progress… but I was starting to feel like a Debbie Downer talking to people as I was in a bit of a negative mind set.. so a small thing I’ve been trying is when you see people out and about (in school mostly) and the usual small talk of “how’s things?” … I try to respond positively rather than the go to “oh, so busy”, “hanging in there” “knackered” type response… And it does actually make you feel less meh and I found it ended up with more of a bit more of a conversation with people.

    Another I started after watching a TED talk in Yr 9 tutor PSHE all about trying to reverse the “I’ll be happy when…” mindset, was starting some positive journalling rather than focusing on the bits I was less pleased with. I’ve just been using an app to write down 3 things. Some will be work based and some will be outside of work.

    The thing I’ve found with the two points above is when you really stop and think about it.. there is plenty of things going right at school and in my teaching. It’s just harder to see when everything’s so busy (sorry for using the B word!) and everyone’s much better at critiquing themselves than saying they’ve done a good job.

    And my final one is. Share things. If you’ve made something and you think it’s pretty good. It probably is and other people will probably think it is too. I shared something on the KS3 page the other day and had a lovely response. So I helped people and it definitely gave me a pep in my step.

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