Joining a new school as agency staff can sometimes be hard; hard to gain the respect of the children and – sometimes – even harder to feel valued as member of the school’s faculty.
I’ve been working with Lake Farm Park Academy (LFPA) for nearly a year now and from the very first day they made it easy for me to fit in and have always made me feel part of the team. In my time here, I’ve come to appreciate just how awesome it is to work with staff who not only understand the benefits but whom actively encourage having an engaging music curriculum taught in their schools.
I’ve experienced first-hand how engaged children have been in response to the classes I teach and the assemblies I have the opportunity to lead. None more so than some of the more boisterous personalities as well as some of the SEN children.
In fact, the music room has become a bit of a magnet for some of the SEN children. One child in particular will regularly make her way to the music room during my break times and, while the “easy” option would be to say the room is closed because it is “my break”, I think it’s more important that I allow them the space and opportunity to connect with music. The truth is , for this individual, everything else might feel like a real challenge to connect where music has a different appeal.
LFPA has carefully designed my timetable to allow 30 minutes each day for me to engage with some of the harder-to-reach students; some days that may be just talking to them as we play a game of basketball or football, and some days it might be a case of getting them to help prepare a school board, or inviting them to have a go at playing some instruments in their break. In addition to giving the children a safe space to express themselves, I’ve found that this dedicated time has helped both myself and pupils gain a mutual understanding which makes lessons and challenging behaviour more manageable.
Ultimately, I think learning should be a fun experience so I try to make lessons as interactive and creative as possible so that children have the freedom to explore, develop and have the confidence to share what they have learned with the peers.
I’ve received reports back from the KS1 teachers who tell me that some of their children have picked up the concept of crotchets and quavers faster than they have pick up phonics. Hearing things like this makes me so proud to be teaching music at LFPA.
When I joined Lake Farm Park back in April 2019 I quickly realised that the children didn’t need just another music teacher that they could only talk to in the classroom, rather they needed a teacher to engage with them; one who shows that they actually care and are genuinely pumped about the subject they teach.
So whether it’s making time to ask if someone’s ok in the hallway when they’re looking a little sad or just giving out an encouraging high-five for no reason at all, I’ve found that this approach has helped not just with building and maintaining working relationships within the school but in becoming an established part of the school’s community.