Saturday, March 30, 2013

Do you have what it takes to be a teacher?

      Teaching students can be one of the most rewarding experiences.  As a teacher I find it to be very rewarding when I see the student make the connection and understand the knowledge that I am sharing.  It is priceless, however there are sometimes that it can be frustrating as well.  To teach anything we must teach in the manner that the student learns.  That means assessing the student and seeing what type of learner they are.  Are they auditory? Are they hands on( kinesthetic )  or perhaps they are visual.  Whatever the case you must calibrate your pedagogy to the student.  In short one size does not fit all.

      It is of the utmost importance that you have patience when teaching, especially with children.  Children are very impressionable and under the right circumstances they have been some of my most inspiring students.  Children are for the most part eager to learn.  We as adults can learn a lot from them.  Everything is new and exciting to them, they are fearless in their learning.  Ive seen babies using ipads and yet I know countless adults who have a fear of technology.

     There will be numerous situations where you as the teacher are also simultaneously the student as well. Often times the student will give you a new perspective on your lessons, sometimes they even can inspire different ways to teach a topic. There is also a stressful side of teaching privately.  The stress can come in many forms from the kid that smells like urine everyday to students that do not practice, this can be disappointing because in the private sector you want to retain as many students as possible since they are your source of income.  Yet at the same time you want to teach new topics.  You must be prepared to reinvent your lesson if the student hasnt practiced.

    I personally managed and taught over 60 private students six days a week for 3 years on top of teaching a high school guitar class.  Now you do not have to do it like that,  I did and it almost led me to being burnt out on teaching.  The reality of managing that many clientele is that about 75% of them do not practice, they are only there because its a hobby or a fleeting interest.  Your clientele with fluctuate too.  It will ebb and flow like the tides.  With that being said be sure and save your money, you are going to need it from time to time when the week has not been as fruitful as your previous.  Think about your savings as your insurance policy for when times are tough because this is a self employed job.

     Most of the time teaching is easy because of all the review you will be doing with your students.  In the private sector remember to keep it fun.  You want your students to keep coming back.  Personally I taught my students whatever they wanted to learn.  If you really want to be successful, then you have to cater to the individual.  I teach everything from basic childrens songs to hard rock, heavy metal to blues.

     You have to be diverse, you have to be willing to improvise your lessons if need be.  This does not mean fly by seat of your pants, do not wing it so to speak.  I always have a plan when I teach for each student.  In a 30min timespan you want that student walking away feeling like they have learned something.  I always tried to have at least 3 concepts/objectives per lesson.  Remember they are paying your salary, so you want them to come back, even the stinky 12 year old.  Also do not ever teach something  that you yourself cannot play, do not try to fake it.   This is unethical and the student will know you do not know what you are doing.

    In all honesty if you really enjoy being a teacher it will be the 25% that keep you inspired they are the dream students.  They are the ones that are eager to learn and are excited to see you each week.  Teaching also has benefits too, example all your teaching materials are tax deductable such as:  cds books, strings picks, instruments etc....  In closing I shall paraphrase Miles Davis he said something to the effect of the real school begins after the university(on being asked why he left Julliard)

more on this subject later

do you have what it takes to be a teacher