reflections from a first-year music teacher: week 2
As a way to reflect on my first year of teaching, I decided I would type a journal entry for every week. Feel free to share this with others, comment with your experiences, or share some knowledge you gained in similar situations. During my second week, my big takeaway was one about my planning - which is ironic having spoken of preparedness last week.
On the weekends I try to formulate a more general lesson plan for each of my classes, and then adjust them the day before teaching them as I observe what we are struggling with and succeeding with. I noticed by Wednesday night of my second week that my plans were stressing me out for some reason. I was constantly reflecting, but not like I had in the past. I was nervous! I’m at a new school getting to know new students, and have set up different expectations and procedures than those previous in my position. I found that as I (correctly) prioritized building relationships with my students, there was an element of proactiveness in my planning that wasn’t there. I wasn’t able to properly visualize the class while I was planning. Laying out a sequenced structure seemed fine, but I wasn’t imagining the minute to minute interaction with my students..
What I mean by that is: not every gesture is planned, but I am simulating the class in my head. What could go wrong? What will go wrong? What do I do when that happens? What is Student A going to struggle with? If I need more time in this portion of this lesson, what other part do I adjust? I run each lesson plan, and try to take student personalities and abilities into account with each time I visualize the instruction. Doing this type of thinking is helpful, and is the type of planning I feel is one of my strengths. But because I was still slightly nervous, I was not able to plan to my full capability. I had almost begun to plan out of urgency and fear instead of sequence and intention. Similarly, my instruction may not have been of the same high quality because of this.
After taking some deep breaths Wednesday night, I relaxed and just visualized my plans for the next day. This doesn’t have to take up a wealth of time either! When executing these plans I: felt more comfortable, was able to adjust better, the students grasped concepts quicker, and THEY felt more comfortable. For anyone reading this: TAKE A BREATH. Calm down. Think about what you are trying to accomplish. Think about what THE STUDENTS are trying to accomplish. Lay out the sequence. Run it through in your head. Adjust the instruction based on what you have observed.
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