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whentaniatalks: Things I’m Proud Of – November 2014 (It’s a Christmasy one!)

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Things I’m Proud Of – November 2014 (It’s a Christmasy one!)

Hi Everyone!

Brace yourselves – it’s a long one!

This month I received a work email that I strongly disagreed with. As a teacher, I strive to have the welfare of my students at the forefront of everything I do. The email in question was in regard to the Christmas concert at one of the schools I teach in.

Huge apologies for using my 'Things I'm Proud Of' template - my laptop gas given up the ghost so I'm having to work with what I've got!

I conduct the Concert Band &, though I have just taken this on, I have taught &/or known most of the students since they came to the school in year 7. Although I conduct this group, my responsibilities do not include providing music & I made it clear from the beginning that, because of my health, would be unable to take this responsibility on.

There have been two main difficulties with getting this group ready for performance in the concert. Music (or a lack of) has been the first. The only piece we have worked on was fundamentally flawed & I spent a lot of time listening to the group (as there was no score for me to read the music from!) & working with the students to iron out these problems. The second problem was getting students together at the same time. Rehearsals take place during the last period of the school day when students are in tutor group. This in itself wouldn’t be a problem, but for the year 11s being required to attend additional Maths & English exam classes & the year 7s being in the gifted & talented programme. With these activities taking place during the last period of school (though not every week), it has been very hard to get the group all together for a rehearsal.

To give you an idea of the rehearsal logistics I’ve faced, there was a week where I only had my four year 7 students at concert band rehearsal. It was decided that, if we continue to have just the year 7s turn up for rehearsals, it would be nice for these four girls to perform as a quartet. They were very excited at this & expressed a wish to perform regardless. The following week we had the flawed music & additional players. Fast forward another week & I had my upper school students, no music & no year 7s!

Last week, I received an email asking for the names of students who had music prepared for the concert. I explained the predicament I had found myself in & said that I had re-worked some simple music that some of the students had previously done when I ran the recorder group. In fairness to the member of staff, I didn’t specify that this music was for Concert Band, not the year 7s.

The reply I received really upset me. It informed me that the decision had been made to only include small groups & that the Concert Band would not be performing as they had nothing prepared. I’m sure you can understand my frustration, as the year 7s have nothing prepared either!

So now that I’ve set the scene for you…

My reply advised against putting the year 7s in the concert in place of Concert Band, made up of students who have served the music department since they themselves were year 7. I calmly pointed out that the year 7s had attended the same number of rehearsals as the rest of Concert Band & that it was unfortunate that it had been difficult to get everyone together. However, my biggest concern was in regard to the future of Concert Band off the back of this decision, doubting it will in fact exist come January should the year 7s play & Concert Band don’t. Why would they want to manage the pressure teachers are putting on them to attend extra classes when their work is not appreciated - I know I wouldn’t! The last paragraph of my email stated that should this be the decision taken, I could not support it. I made clear that I would not openly oppose the teacher in question but that, should I be asked by the students, I would have to be honest with them.

I am proud of this email for a couple of reasons. The first of the way in which I stood up for what I believe in, made my case confidently & gave examples to back up what I said. I was proud to stand up for my students, who work so hard. The second reason is that I didn’t spend the rest of the week checking my email every 5 minutes for a reply, dreading what it would say!

This might not be a big thing for some people, but for me it’s a huge milestone! I was in an abusive relationship & suffered with PTSD as a result. Though this is behind me, confrontation does still trigger mild symptoms. In all honesty, I’ve always hated confrontation - I just don’t understand it!

So this month, I have been proud of a well thought out & written email, standing up for my hard working students & not caring about the response my email will elicit! Even now, as I’m sat writing this, I would have expected my IBS to have flared up as a result of stress what with this being the day I teach at the school in question but no – nothing!

Have you found yourself having to stand up for something & surprising yourself in the process?
What have you been proud of this month?

Tania Xx



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