Settling in to new school

It is now the fourth week of term and I am settling into my new role as the music teacher at Pelican Primary School (a pseudonym). I felt a bit dazed after the first week, thrown by the experience of working with unfamiliar students and unfamiliar teachers, in an unfamiliar school, with unfamiliar musical instruments and equipment. I came home feeling quite deflated, wondering how it was that I thought myself to be a dynamic, exciting music teacher.

Week 2 brought some reassurance to me. One was the way the children greeted me by name as I walked through the school ground. I’d forgotten how nice this is, and now that they know who I am, they seem delighted to call hello as I walk past (umpteen times, in the case of some eager beavers). Then, there was the pleasure in having classes arrive at their music lessons, brimming with excitement to tell me how they could remember all the things we did the previous week, or the words to the song we’d learned. I can’t have been that dull, I said to myself.

By week 3, I was able to start plotting the composition projects I want to undertake with each class. Now that I’ve seen them in action, and the way they respond to me and my teaching style, and also how their teacher participates in the lessons, I can build appropriate projects for them.

I’m also discovering that, while 45 minute lessons feel pretty short to me, they are far less onerous in terms of planning than the double-period lessons I teach at the Language School. Also, the way my day-and-a-half teaching load has been timetabled sees me in the school from 11.30-3.30, two days a week, and I am discovering that this slightly shorter day is giving me a valuable opportunity to really pace myself, and figure out how to be an effective teacher without leaving myself completely wasted and depleted of all energy at the end of the teaching day.

This question of ‘pace’ is one of my personal goals for 2009 – so often, when I come home from a project day or school day, I am virtually comatose, unfit for any further kind of communication. Often I need a nap. Imagine if I had a family to look after when I came home! Impossible…. I am full of admiration for the dynamic teachers I know who go home to families at the end of the teaching day.

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