I have started music lessons in a new school this year. Well, I’ve been there for a while, but not teaching music lessons – just running a choir. This year, my timetable is a bit changed, so I’m teaching the choir every alternate week, and music lessons for years 3 – 6 the other week. Because I’ve been away last week, this week was the first week of lessons.
I teach in class groups – so 28 – 30 kids at a time, mostly. I expect a few things with kids, and they can expect a few things from me. I try to be engaging. I try to be fair. I try to be as fun as possible. I try to teach them something every lessons. And back? I expect them to treat instruments with respect. I expect them to try their best. For some children this might be simply looking at the board, rather than singing, because they are too shy. For others, it might be sitting still for 2 minutes at a go.
So yesterday I had a fairly tricky year 3 class for the first time. They ran into the hall (I’m often teaching in large spaces. I find it easier that way.). I let that one go. We started reading rhythm. Most kids were engaged. I let the few wrigglers go, as I didn’t really know them yet. Then I delivered my expectations as I handed out instruments. I told them that if they didn’t put their instruments on the floor I’d take them away. Did they understand? All heads nodded.
So I handed out the instruments. Three children didn’t stop fiddling. So I took their stuff away.
“That’s a bit harsh.” said one little voice (a mate of one of the kids with now no instruments).
“Why?” I asked? “You all said you understood what I asked of you. I told you the consequences. And yet these children didn’t do what I asked. They aren’t in kindergarten. They are in year 3.”
And to my surprise my little friend said, “Oh. Fair enough.”
I had no more problems for the rest of the lesson.
And I did eventually give all the stuff back to my fiddlers. They did the right thing.
Ah, boundaries. How I love you.