My teaching community: Finding support in a solitary career

This week, I was struck by how fortunate we are to live in a time when it so easy to collaborate & ask for help from other educators from around the world.  Especially when, as much as I love teaching piano, it can be a very solitary career.  We spend lots of time with students, but not necessarily a lot of regular time with other professionals.  If you already do this, awesome!  You are the teachers I look up to & turn to for advice.

Below are some of the inspirational & thought-provoking podcasts, blog posts & Facebook groups that really struck a chord with me this week.  I hope that they prove to be just as useful for you!

Finding supportin a

Procrastinating

“The Sneakier, More Insidious Form of Procrastination (and What to Do About it)” by Noa Kageyama was a fantastic article about how we ALL procrastinate sometimes.  As always, there is plenty of research to back up Noa’s insights.

If you have a chance, definitely listen to “Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator“.  I had originally listened to the podcast (& was reminded about it in Noa’s article) to better understand the procrastinators in my life … only to realize that I am a closet procrastinator myself!

This, however, did not stop me from going down the rabbit hole of online research yesterday so this will still be an area of improvement for me.

‘New’ Teaching Ideas

I am always on the look out for new ways to approach a common teaching moment.  What works for one student may not work for the next, so I am constantly looking for more ideas to add to my teaching toolbox.

I would like to add more composition into our studio, but admit that it still something pretty new for me.  This month we are doing short composition projects (5 -7 min.) that encourage students to explore make new melodies or adding something to their songs.  It has also been a great opportunity to talk about the abundance of scales in songs (not an accident), using ostinato, & creating a descant.  All lovely composition & theory concepts that don’t always translate to those aha moments when student look at their music.  Natalie’s article, “Using Composition & Notation to Teach Music Theory” was a great reminder to keep this practice up … even after our April composition focus in over.

Another great teaching idea that solved a teaching challenge from this week came to my in-box  just this morning!  Don’t you just love when you are mulling on what to do with a student (or students) & you get an idea dropped right into your lap (so to speak)?  I was wondering about the best way to get my littlest ones to curve their hands consistently, especially since they am just learning to put one finger per note (rather than multiple fingers per note).  Andrea, from Teach Piano Today, has a great manipulative: “The Button Glove: A DIY Tool To Improve Hand Position in Young Piano Students“.  After reading her ideas, I’m wondering if I will still be able to find children’s gloves anywhere or if perhaps my children have some that I could steal.  Hmm.

Project-Based Learning

This is one of the ‘it’ teaching practices right now.  And, the more I hear about it the more intrigued I become.  While I haven’t figured out exactly how this will translate to my teaching, I am collecting ideas for my subconscious to mull over.

My favourite podcast this week was All Project-Based Learning Is Not Created Equal: What Works?  This is part of a series of podcasts on best practices for PBL (project-based learning) that I have really enjoyed listening to.

Digital Lesson Notes

I really need to say thank you to Jennifer Foxx & Leila Viss for answers some questions I had about moving lesson notes for myself & students over to a digital format!  This is something I would like to implement in the fall & am currently collecting ideas to figure out the best fit for me.  Both Jennifer & Leila are the experts I look to for iPad integration for my studio.  I would highly recommend checking out their Facebook pages for regularly updates on everything digital!

  • Jennifer Foxx: Music Educator Resources … also includes a new live “Just Ask Jennifer!” event on the 2nd Friday of each month.
  • Leila Viss:  The iPad Piano Studio … one of 2 FB groups that Leila runs, this one has tons of info specific to using iPads.

Supporting the Masterpiece of Teaching

One of my favourite non-piano education podcasts is Vicki Davis’ “Every Classroom Matters“.  If you are looking for a supportive, inspiring show designed for teachers … this is it.

The last few months have been a bit rough with one client.  It’s been quite a few long conversation about addressing her concerns, some of which now have no bearing on her children’s current programming.  At this point, I just want to end the year off on a good note (no pun intended) while continuing to give my best while teaching her children.  For next year, I am encouraging them to transfer to a teacher that better meets the expectations of the mom (though both of us put all of our comments in terms of “what is best for her children”).

Why do I tell you this?  Because Vicki’s blog “Where the Masterpiece of Learning Really Starts” was a much needed read this week.  While the article could be read in a couple of ways (for example, putting too much focus on a particular teaching tool), it reminded me that:

  1. I CAN give my best to each of my students.  Regardless of what may be going on with the parents.  I can’t control parent support (or how they speak about my teaching in front of their kids), but I CAN control my interactions with my students & give them the best practices that I know to help them reach their music goals.
  2. Others will NOT always understand that it is the teacher, not the tools or approach that help students become successful.  There will be others who think they know best & no amount of research or reasoning from the teacher will change their mind.  All we can do as educators is give our best & not allow those naysayers to bring doubt into our minds.

What Is Your Teaching Inspiration?

I would love to hear about what inspires you … the blogs, podcasts, articles, & people.  Please share below so we can help each other build personal learning networks!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s