I’ve been teaching in schools for twelve years or so now. I teach music, mainly via the guitar, sometimes the ukulele (under sufferance). I cover songwriting and composition, leading groups and ensembles. Until the pandemic I was in schools, teaching about 300 children each week, 250 or so in full classes, mostly aged between eight and nine. These lessons are part of a government programme to give free instrumental tuition to every child in the country. The reality isn’t always as the dream, but we do our best with what we have. This might be the only chance to play an instrument that some of these kids ever get. I’ve taught maybe 3,000 children in all, in probably 20 or 30 schools. I’ve taught in a few centres for mentally ill, homeless or otherwise vulnerable adults. I see some funny, some sad and some that makes me so happy I remember why I’m doing it, and I’ve usually seen all that by lunchtime on Monday.
In the pandemic all the teaching has pretty much been online, aside from a brief spell in schools between September and December last year. That bit was constantly terrifying in a low-key way and I don’t intend to focus on it in this blog. At least not until it is a distant enough memory.
I’m preparing to go back to real life teaching tomorrow. Aside from the natural nervousness of returning to a slowly reawakening world, slightly before the danger of covid has completely passed, I am excited to be going back. I’ve made the best of the online teaching – no doubt that will come up in these posts. Some of it really has been positive, and I am a better teacher now than I was a year ago, because I’ve been forced to think about everything differently and really build up my whole approach from scratch. I am sick of sitting in front of a screen.
I’m sure there will be many good moments to come. Here’s one from the archive:
Teaching moment of the week, with a 7 year old boy
Me: Careful with that guitar. I've had it 30 years & I'd like to have it another 30.
Boy: If you survive that long.
Me: Thanks a bunch. How old do you think I am?
Boy: Well you might die in a car crash next week.
Even the other 7 year old looked shocked.