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Teacher and Musician Challenge 1

Teacher and Musician Challenge 1 - don't talk

This is a new series of posts for the blog. Every Friday, I will post a new ‘Teacher and Musician Challenge’ for you to try in your lessons. The idea for this series came when I rediscovered this post on Ross McGill’s blog and remembered that my PGCE mentor (Guy Bunce) and I used to set each other teaching challenges on a regular basis. While these would often be ‘just a bit of fun’, they were also a great way to take away the safety net and force ourselves to think creatively about our teaching. This was a tradition that I kept going over the years and it never failed to help me refresh my approach.

#TandMchallenge 1 – Don’t talk in today’s lessons.

This was actually the very first challenge that Guy set for me and I have returned to it at least once a year. It’s as simple as it sounds; do not say a word during any of your lessons today.
This challenge can be addressed in a number of different ways and I’ve listed four of them below. Have a think about which one is most appropriate for each situation (e.g. ‘musical phrases’ version may be more suitable for a workshopping lesson in Year 8 than a sixth form analysis session).  This list is by no means exhaustive but should give enough ideas to get you started:
  1. Type everything you would’ve said on the whiteboard
  2. Point and mime to indicate what you want pupils to do
  3. Sing everything you would’ve said
  4. Come up with a starter that trains the pupils to recognise certain musical phrases as specific instructions (e.g. an major scale means ‘go to your instruments’, ascending third is ‘yes’, descending third is ‘no’, a dim7 chord is ‘definitely not!’)
Whenever I’ve set myself this challenge, it’s led to a really positive atmosphere.  The pupils like the novelty and I enjoy the challenge of finding new ways to communicate.  Of course, it may well be necessary to break out of this routine to deal with any serious behaviour issues that may crop up but the approach itself should minimise any such issues (unless you try it too often!).  To get the most out of this, do it for all of the lessons you teach in one day – you’ll get better at it and find yourself with some useful new habits for when you allow your voice to return.

Shout about it!

Try out this challenge and let me know how you get on.  I’ve set my Tweetdeck to notify me for any tweets with the hashtag #TandMchallenge