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  • Josephine Brereton

Today's lessons were really hard, for multiple reasons. It's getting to that part of the year where everything just feels a bit too hard. I'm exhausted, I'm overwhelmed and I'm just trying my hardest to keep up.

Today I planned an action packed lesson, which I honestly thought would end in disaster. My students are wonderful and talented, but they often struggle with group work, and with student driven learning, and this whole lesson revolved around teaching themselves a song and playing together. Last week had been a bit disastrous with quite a bit of misbehaving so I was ready to be a bit more strict this week.

The lesson actually turned out really really well. There was only one class that didn't get through all of the activities (my chattiest class who took a while to get going in the first portion of the lesson) and most classes actually had time to swap parts and learn a whole new line. The kids seemed to enjoy the lesson, and it was great to finally get them playing with different textures and tone colours inside the one lesson, and also to give them some control over their learning. Being a bit strict and then loosening the reigns a little seemed to work and they worked really well together for the most part.

I found at points in the lesson (and in the afternoon choir session) that I was raising my voice often, and even yelling at points, especially when students were being unsafe, inconsiderate or just plain rude. I was getting so frustrated that I didn't know what else to do and my students were suffering the brunt of that and it wasn't fair. I try my best to teach from a trauma informed perspective and yelling isn't a part of that. I know that I sometimes need to be strict with my students, but I just felt awful, so awful that I had to have a little cry before I left. I don't think it was the best way to reprimand and correct my students, and I'm doing my best to reflect, and to reach out to my colleagues for advice.

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  • Josephine Brereton

This week was a very tricky one for my students at Banksmeadow -- they had their first go at reading a score. I tried to make it as simple as possible for them to follow with colours, but I also made sure they were exposed to proper musical symbols and terminology.

We started the lesson with Pass the Beat, and then they sat down with the boomwhackers. When I asked them to choose a boomwhacker, I forgot that kids are kids, and will get excited if you offer them a giant colourful pole to whack on the ground, so they all rushed the front of the room to grab the biggest, brightest boomwhacker they could find. I ended up yelling, telling them to go to the back of the room and sit down and scolded them, explaining the importance of taking their time and being safe. I'm really not proud of this, especially since it was my mistake that prompted this behaviour. Their classroom teacher recommended to me that I get them come up in their table groups, which I thought was a really good idea.

I've not been doing very well with anticipating behavioural challenges in class lately which has created problems in my behaviour. I hate yelling at my students and when I fail to anticipate it feels like my teaching suffers, which means my students are getting the support they need.

I'm hoping that next week I can improve on this and also use more of the PBL framework techniques in my lessons.

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  • Josephine Brereton

Planning for the new term and getting to design my own units always makes me excited about going into a career in Music Education. For my first two terms at Banksmeadow, I wasn't sure about the abilities or levels of the students, especially because they hadn't had a music program in their school for a few years, but this term I swapped back to teaching the Stage 2 and 3 students and I know what level/ability they are, so I was able to plan my unit in more detail. So far I’ve found that it takes more pressure off me during the term and it gives the unit a better progression. I find it also makes me push myself (and the students) to work harder and learn more, because I already had specific goals in mind for them – below you can find the first 3 weeks of my program.

Week One was really wonderful, the kids were so happy to be back in music and they really enjoyed the lesson. We began by playing pass the beat, and they caught on really quickly to the rules of the game, and ended up being really precise with keeping the beat. I really love this game because it’s fun and competitive and therefore really inspires the kids to be picky with themselves and their classmates. If they played too fast or too slow, they were out, and by the end of our second round, kids were sitting themselves out (without me asking) when they could hear they’d done something wrong. It was also really helpful to me as a teacher to see which kids were aware of the beat and tempo, and which kids weren’t quite grabbing the concept.

After this we learned a song quickly – most of the kids already know It Could’ve Been Me from the movie Sing 2, so the process was really quick. This was nice as a little ‘brain break’ to separate the lesson up a bit and also bring them back to singing, building on the skills they had learned in choir in Term 3.

I found that I had to do a lot of behaviour management this week, which I should have expected being the first week back from holidays, unfortunately I didn’t anticipate it which meant I wasn’t prepared and ended up unfortunately yelling over the kids to get their attention and to quiet them. I really dislike doing this, and I’m hoping to get a whistle or something because I hate raising my voice at them, and I don’t want them to think I’m upset with them, I just don’t know how else to get over the sound when they’re all super excited and noisy.

Overall, I thought these lessons went pretty well, especially being the first week back, and I am so looking forward to the rest of the term.

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