Written by Laurie Niles
Published: September 15, 2014 at 7:34 PM [UTC]
So how do we elevate the level of teaching? With the widespread sharing of all our teaching secrets. That's right, stealing ideas from other teachers!
In fact, this very idea is something I've stolen, from Shinichi Suzuki. (And from whom did he steal it? I'm not sure!) Not only did he invite teachers from all over the globe to watch him teach and "steal" his ideas, he also encouraged teachers to do the same: Have an open studio, where teachers, parents and other students are welcome to observe. Learning from other teachers is so critical that many teaching programs, including SAA's Suzuki pedagogy program, require aspiring teachers to observe established teachers for a certain number hours.
But of course it doesn't matter whether you are a Suzuki teacher, traditional teacher, or for that matter, a trombone teacher. The point is that when it comes to educating students, we need a lot of ideas, and sharing those ideas only helps us reach more students in more ways.
Now, when I say "steal," I don't mean to use people's copyrighted music or texts without payment or permission. I simply mean to seek, test and use new ideas on a regular basis. Push yourself beyond your comfortable habits. In turn, share your best ideas with other teaching colleagues.
Here are a few ways to renew your store of teaching ideas on a regular basis:
When it comes to teaching children, there should be no "secrets" about how to do it. If you find something that works, use it. If you see someone else doing something that works, use it. And give credit where it's due; acknowledge the sources of your ideas and publicly praise your colleagues for their best ideas.
Also, remember your purpose as a teacher. You are not in a competition to be the "best" teacher in the world, or to prove yourself "better" than the teacher across town. You are not trying to find the secret best method that propels your students "ahead" of everyone else's. Those kinds of goals are isolating and can lead to ugly comparisons between teachers and between students. Those goals focus on your Big Teacherly Ego, rather than on your student's progress and learning.
You goal is to teach the student or students in front of you, to the best of your ability. Keep working on connecting your students with music and with their own abilities, and everything else will fall in place.
I am primarily a violinist but due to the nature of the program I am also teaching viola, cello and double bass. I have noticed there are very few teaching resources out there for Suzuki viola, cello and double bass. This past summer I attended a Suzuki teacher training course for violin and am hoping to do the cello training next year. Does anyone have any blogs or good websites they have come across where anyone shares information on teaching Suzuki cello, double bass or viola? This would be a wonderful resource to share!
I didn't realize it at the time but it was really one of the best things that could have happened to me. The other teachers had a few years of experience (I had none) which allowed me to have a sounding board for ideas. Even though we all ended up having *completely* different approaches to teaching the communal effort allowed each of us to grow way more than if we were all trying to do the job solo.
After reading this article, I thought I would share information about one of the online classes that will begin tomorrow (Sept, 22, 2014) called "Teaching the Violin and Viola: Creating a Healthy Foundation". This class is being presented by Northwestern University. While I can't guarantee the quality of the class (you can easily un-enroll), it may be worth checking it out since it's free.
You'll need to login in to Coursera to enroll in this class, which means you'll only need an email address and create a password. Who knows...if this class doesn't suit you, perhaps you will find some other topics and/or classes of interest.
See below for information regarding the strings class.
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