Teaching in an Online World
Welcome to term 2 online.
This term looks, feels and sounds very different to all the terms that have preceded it. This term is completely online. It feels strange not seeing my students face to face, in person. Talking to them and seeing how happy they are to tell me about their holidays, the sheepish look when they say they haven't practised. Somehow having that interaction on a computer screen doesn't feel quite the same.
Having said that, what option do we have but to take every class online? We do the best we can given the tools and circumstances that life throws our way.
A few thoughts on teaching online this term...
1. Be kind to yourself.
Mistakes will happen. They will. There will be errors, glitches, zoom calls that drop out. There will also be amazing moments, 'aha!' moments, moments where you realise your students are more capable than you gave them credit for, and moments where all of the foundations of your previous lessons will pay off. For all the great moments, there may well be bad moments as well. Be kind, don't beat yourself up and remember that this is a learning curve for everyone.
2. Your students are more capable than you know.
As teachers, we all like to think that we know our students. Like really know our students. But something I've learnt the last couple of weeks in particular is that a number of my students who I had not given enough credit to, actually are more capable at things like sight reading than I had thought. Not having me sit right next to them and them rely on me to help them through each step means they are showing their independence more during lessons. I've been pleasantly surprised and proud of my students so far, and I'm sure there will be more surprises in hidden sight reading skills, technical skills, rhythmic playing etc as we continue through the term.
3. Do only what is best for you and your students.
In preparing for this term of online piano teaching, I spent quite a bit of time researching online piano teaching and seeing what other teachers do. As a teacher who doesn't have a big budget to play with, the idea of setting up overhead cameras and buying expensive props became daunting to me. As I began teaching online, I quickly realised that not once had I wished I'd had an overhead camera, not once did I wish that I had an expensive plastic keyboard prop on which to demonstrate. The printed out and laminated keyboard image I had was sufficient and the small webcam I have can be manipulated to show my hands at different angles. Starting off with just the bare minimum (a device for video calling + your own piano + a print out keyboard image), is seriously all you need.