Vintage Balance ScaleI am now teaching Note Knacks to children in a choir. They sing with my colleague for half the time and are with me for the other half. It works quite well! I have never had so much to teach in so little time! ….even after teaching in public school for over 15 years! The great thing, though, is that I have learned a very important lesson: kids need scaffolding, but they catch on very quickly.

When I had a full 45 minutes, I would take several classes to lead up to a concept, constantly thinking about the learner with the most challenges. Because there is so little time, I have had to skip most of the background and just get to it! Students are doing really well! I know that I still need to check in with them to make sure they are all getting it, but on a whole I have been amazed at how well they are grasping the concepts.

Good teaching always entails finding the careful balance between giving as much support as possible and letting go so that they can figure it out on their own. In most cases outside factors hinder this: lack of actual classroom time, behavioral issues, admin overstepping and the like. So how do we teach our students in the way that makes the most sense for them?

A couple of things come to mind:

First, we need to think about using every minute that we have in a constructive way. The more time we keep kids engaged, the more they will want to learn! It will also cut down on behavior issues….busy kids do not have time to fool around! More importantly, kids will come away grasping more of the material. A win win.

Second, push your students. Build self confidence by having faith in their abilities and showing them what they can accomplish when they try hard.

Third, we need to fight for our time with kids. This does encourage vocalizing the need for a cohesive music program that is not interrupted constantly, but it also means creating a program that principals and others in the school community want to support. We need the whole community in our corner when money and time cuts are on the table.

Teaching is always a balancing act; this is where the “Art of Teaching” and the “Mechanics of Teaching” meet! Have fun!