Lies I Tell My Students

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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…

 

liar1Lie 1: If you work hard and follow the expected route of GCSE’s, A Levels and Degree (or equivalent in other countries) you’ll get a well paid, satisfying job.

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.

 

tumblr_m3ggbcT1hv1rrdiwlo2_400Lie 2: If you want something and work hard enough, you’ll eventually achieve it.

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.

 

tumblr_m8kbsqUdtp1qb9fucLie 3: Once you leave school, you’ll never have to deal with bullying again. (I heard this nonsense spouted a few years ago at a school I was visiting).

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.

 

tumblr_m4tf1etWU21qm6oc3o1_500Lie 4: A simple apology will make everything go away and all is forgiven.

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.

 

Will-Ferrell-Elf-You-Sit-on-a-Throne-of-LiesLie 5: Deadlines can be repeatedly extended if you can’t be bothered and it is still possible to get the same grades as those who have handed their work in on time.

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.

What are your thoughts? You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/Suzie81Speaks

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!!

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Inspection Exhaustion

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Meh

My absence (hence the amount of reblogs and my lack of replies to your comments) recently has been due to the fact that my school has been undergoing a massive inspection. It isn’t the dreaded OFSTED, but may has well have been – my school is an outstanding Academy and therefore we also have routine inspections from the company that sponsors it. To say that I am exhausted is an understatement.

I don’t believe in ‘show’ lessons – I don’t plan anything that I wouldn’t normally deliver on a daily basis – but the added stress of triple checking paperwork to ensure that it is correct has resulted in about ten hours sleep in the last few days. I had everything in place and organised into specific folders, I printed off plans, seating plans, important information about individual students and overviews of the content of the lesson. I went into work earlier each day, making sure that everything was set up to the highest possible standard. The anticipation of everything gave me an enormous loss of appetite.

I wasn’t observed.

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Double meh

It’s always a double – edged sword in situations like this – I’m pleased that I wasn’t seen as the process is quite nerve-racking, but at the same time I was a little disappointed as I had some awesome lessons over the last few days and I spent hours printing off paperwork that I didn’t need to. However, I’ve watched some of my colleagues go through the process with various inspectors and I was pleased for them when the general feedback has been really good. In my last observation I was given an ‘Outstanding,’ so I was concerned that there would be a high level of expectation from an inspector entering my classroom and so I have been extremely tense for the last few days, so the plan for this evening is simply to relax and do absolutely nothing. I’ve been doing quite well on the diet that I started at the beginning of the year, but tonight I am going to indulge in some hot, buttered toast and a chocolate bar the size of my face.

Normal blogging will resume at the weekend, when I’ve got through tomorrow’s lessons and choir and caught up on some sleep and I’ll get on with replying to the fantastic comments that you’ve been leaving recently. In the meantime, don’t forget to check out the blogs that I am advertising at the minute on my sidebar – simply click on the buttons for links to their sites. I promise it will be worth your time.

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @Suzie81blog – I’d love to see you there!

Image credit 1: tucoo.com
Image credit 2: lolwall

Why Aren’t Students Allowed To Fail?

Yesterday I had a bad day at work. Normally I like my job, but yesterday was a really hard slog. It was all caused by one student.

This student wasn’t in the mood. For anything. All day. As part of his coursework he had to participate in a drum workshop led by a highly experienced and enthusiastic drum teacher, and the most he could muster was to put his head on his hands and tap the drum as quietly as he could. He was talking, messing about and generally being a nuisance. Continue reading