Broad and balanced

I’m getting stuck into the Chartered College Chartered Teacher Programme: lots more reading about teaching things than I used to do, and I’m really enjoying it. Cognitive science is becoming a bigger interest than I expected and I’m already making a list of articles and other bits of reading to do when term ends. It’s becoming a habit to carry a book around and snatch a few minutes of reading when time allows before, during and after the school day. I’m even finding that I talk to students about the books!

It’s the evidence/research-informed practice aspect of the Chartered Programme (and College generally) that I enjoy the most. We’re not short of material with so many articles to catch up on. I attended a scoping workshop for the RSA Learning About Culture ‘Evidence Champions’: a potential new programme to support a variety of people who work with and engage in the arts to enrich their work and evaluation with evidence. Looking forward to seeing how that develops, but just as with the Chartered College I’m particularly keen to see how ethical considerations will feature, and how those considerations are supported.

A recent assignment for the Chartered Teacher Programme was to contribute to a debate and we were provided with three options. I went for ‘what constitutes a broad and balanced curriculum?’. In some respects you probably could answer this in a sentence but the reading suggestions made me more muddled than expected. Not sure my contribution to the debate was really what I wanted to say but it’s left me pondering the nature of the Music curriculum in my school and where it might go next. It was great to read the other posts, and interact with them – I’m in awe of the quality of thinking expressed by the talented bunch on the pilot Chartered Teacher Programme: I sense I’m going to learn a great deal just from interacting with the cohort.

The Cultural Leadership Community session on leadership came at the right time. We have so many demands on us as middle leaders with accountability above and below. Greg and Sam – and the fantastic leadership story shared by Sue Hoyle – brought values to the fore. I’m more conscious of my values as a leader, and how embodying these through actions needs more attention. Sue’s ‘quiet leadership’ certainly left an impression on all of this.

Leading the orchestration workshop at the Royal Opera House this weekend for the finalists of the 2018 Fanfare Competition was as much a learning opportunity for me as it was for the students. It got me thinking how we’re always needing to be flexible to meet the needs of the individual whilst juggling the expectations and needs of our colleagues: and I was juggle the expectations of the wonderful orchestra by being clear with my requests to try something out. It was like live research: “can you play that tremolo?” then thinking “that really doesn’t work…”. I wanted to model for the students the kinds of questions we should ask as composers, and all the while I was reflecting on how and what I’d said and what I’d say next. Teaching is such a joy but demanding as we respond and plan in the moment. Teaching really is research.

I was thinking that I really do have a broad and balanced curriculum for myself: independent study, interacting with a virtual cohort, chatting to colleagues, attending seminars and behaving as a musician by leading or being taught. As much as we need a broad and balanced curriculum for our students we do also need a broad and balanced continuing professional development. It’s always a challenge to find the time but it really pays off when we have the space to pursue these different CPD approaches.

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