I’m in the lucky position that I work at a well – managed school with lots of wonderful children and supportive staff. Generally, I like my job, but over the years I’ve become increasingly frustrated with certain aspects of the role that has left me feeling like I am doing a disservice to my students.
While my job title states that I’m a music teacher, I often take on parental duties and in my career as a Learning Mentor and later as a teacher I’ve dealt with issues with different students that have shocked me and made me appreciate how lucky I was in my own childhood. Our children are exposed to graphic things at a younger age than previous generations and are often more ‘street-wise’ than I certainly ever was. However, despite this, I believe that we don’t truly prepare them for the life ahead of them, and in some cases I feel like I outright lie to my students. While this may seem harsh, we may be setting them up for a fall…
Truth: While good qualifications may give students a slightly greater advantage in the pursuit of a job, it’s not guaranteed that they will secure the job that they’re actually qualified for, particularly in the present economic climate. Additionally they are almost certainly likely to start at the bottom and will be expected to work their way up.
Truth: A goal or ambition is always a fantastic thing to have, but it is also important to be realistic. As a music teacher I’ve worked with several students who genuinely believe that they could have a professional singing career (programmes like The X Factor and The Voice have a lot to answer for). Admittedly, they can sing in tune, but even after extensive vocal lessons they haven’t shown much improvement in their expression or musicality and simply don’t have the natural talent that is required to be a successful singer. Ambition is wonderful, but sometimes certain careers require levels of talent that often cannot be taught, and the sad fact of ‘making it’ in the entertainment industry is that sometimes it comes down to not what you know, but rather who you know.
Truth: Children that bully often become adults that bully. My current school has a strict anti-bullying policy and responds swiftly to allegations, but this isn’t the case everywhere. It’s likely that students will have to deal with bullies in the workplace, and I feel we need to make aggressive students be responsible for their actions and equip weaker students with the tools to deal with it in the future.
Truth: An apology is a good start, but it doesn’t automatically make things better. I always believe that each lesson should be treated as a ‘fresh start’ and if student has had a bad day, I’ll accept their apology and move on. However, in the real world, an apology won’t always resolve issues, and if someone had truly felt aggrieved by the behaviour of another they certainly won’t be able to move on and forgive in the same way.
Truth: I’ve lost count of the amount of times where I’ve sat individually with students in my lunch times, after school and during the holidays to allow them to catch up on work that they didn’t fully complete in a lesson because they weren’t ‘in the mood’. After extra time, they passed the course and some achieved a grade equal to those that worked considerably harder during lesson time. In the real world, deadlines are there for a reason, and if they aren’t met there are always consequences. A missed deadline may cost somebody their job.
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This was originally published on my blog last year – as I approach my year anniversary I thought that I would share it with you again – It has been one of my most popular posts!!