Joining a new school as agency staff can sometimes be hard. It can be hard to gain the respect of the children and – sometimes – harder to feel valued as a member of staff.
I’ve worked with Lake Farm Park Academy (LFPA) for nearly a year. From the first day, they made it easy to fit in and made me feel part of the team. It’s awesome to work with staff who understand the benefits of and actively encourage the presence of an engaging music curriculum.
Supporting children with additional needs
It’s incredible to see how engaged children are in response to the classes and assemblies I lead. Especially when I capture the attention of some of the more boisterous personalities and SEN children.
In fact, the music room is a magnet for some of the SEN children. One child in particular regularly makes her way to the music room during my break times. While the “easy” option would be to say the room is closed because it is “my break”, it’s more important to allow them the opportunity to connect with music. The truth is, for this individual, everything else might feel like a real challenge to connect. Music offers a different appeal.
LFPA carefully designed my timetable allowing 30 minutes each day for me to engage with some of the harder-to-reach students. Some days that may involve talking to them as we play a game of basketball or football. Some days it might be working with them to prepare a school board. Or it might be inviting them to try 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. This makes lessons and challenging behaviour more manageable.
Ultimately, I believe learning should be a fun experience. I aim 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 learn with peers.
Spot the difference
I received reports from the KS1 teachers to say that some children have picked up the concept of crotchets and quavers faster than phonics. This makes me so proud to teach music at LFPA.
After arriving at Lake Farm Park, I quickly realised that the children didn’t need another music teacher that they could only talk to in class. They needed a teacher to engage with them. They needed someone to show that they care and are genuinely pumped about the subject they teach.
So, I always make time to ask if someone’s ok in the hallway when they’re looking a little sad. Or give out an encouraging high-five for no reason at all. I’ve found that this approach has helped with building and maintaining working relationships within the school and in becoming an established part of the school’s community.