With the negative attitude towards the Arts at the moment where the government are concerned I felt it necessary to write about my day today.
I teach in a comprehensive school and Fridays begin with a lesson with my Yr7 Induction class. This is a small group of students who, for whatever reason, need a more primary approach to their schooling with one teacher for the majority of their lessons. Subjects like mine who need specialists to teach them are taught by the subject staff instead (please note that I have said that specialist teachers are needed – I could probably teach History at KS3 (in fact I have), but very few History teachers could teach Music).
I love this class, but in order to manage their behaviour you really do have to teach differently. I’m not saying that you have to change your expectations, but you have to approach each student in an individual way. Among others we have a number for whom English is a second language, 2 who are with foster parents and others with either severe additional needs or who have very little support at home. My approach is lighthearted with a can-do attitude.
Anyway, at the moment we are learning to play Frere Jacques on the keyboard adding in an accompaniment with our left hand. A task that even some in my top set find challenging. This class have really risen to the challenge, but it is very busy in my classroom as they all need 1-2-1 support and I have one TA in with me.
One lad in particular had no drive at all. Everything was too hard and therefore he gave up. Thanks to @Thelmatopia I bought a positive pants badge and wore it on my lanyard. After a lot of individual support he finally managed to play with both hands last week declaring ‘I can play it properly now’. He asked if I could write the letters down so he could take it home and show his foster mum what he could do.
This week he caught me outside to tell me his foster mum had a keyboard in the loft and she was going to get it down for him to practice on and could he be assessed next week so he had time to get it right. He came in and got straight down to work and practised and practised. For the first time ever he asked to perform in front of the class – something he never does!
This sense of achievement meant I had a completely different boy in my classroom today. The TA went to try and find the Head of Year, as this class are more known for getting it wrong than right, and came back with the Vice Principal. He stayed for half an hour or so and listened to every student in the class as they all wanted to show off what they could do. He then went to find the Assistant SENDCO and the Assistant Head of Year and the kids all literally bursted with pride. They were working at the same level as some of my top set students. Goes to show that when reading or writing is necessary everyone is on the same playing field. Not only that – they actually listened to each other in silence showing respect and consideration, clapping after every performance.
I later found out that he had also arranged for a text message to go out to all of their parents telling them about the fantastic work they had done. I can only imagine what that will do for their self-esteem!
And the government seem to want to curtail the Arts…….