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A blog by Mr Tan the Music Man
Last week we had the dreaded call, the call that no teacher wants to hear, the call that brings grown men to tears, the call that sends shivers down the spine of that cold-hearted teacher you had in Primary School: Ofsted were coming in. For my American friends out there, they are our school inspectors.
I can’t really speak for my colleagues, as I am in a very different position to them – they all have classes that they teach nearly every subject to. They see those children every day, they are a lot more intensely involved in their lives for the year they have them. They have to provide data and have “grilling” interviews with Ofsted inspectors who get right down to the nitty-gritty of everything they do.
For me, the specialist music teacher in the school, I see all the children once a week for their music lessons. For most of the children it is the ‘fun’ lesson with the ‘cool’ teacher, and I spend most of my time feeling like I’m on a kids show inside their televisions at home! So to hear Ofsted were coming in, my main focus was to make sure I slept well the night before they came in so that I knew I was on top form.
In my previous job, I was observed quite a lot while teaching and I had some great team members who were so good at making me better at what I did, so that side of things didn’t really worry me too much. However, I have to admit, knowing that Ofsted would want to look at my written lesson plans did worry me a little. I knew I had planned well enough to give a good lesson, but I don’t think I could honestly say they were of a good enough standard for Ofsted.
Don’t get me wrong – I give 100%, I work my heart out and I pride myself in delivering outstanding lessons, but my paperwork didn’t really reflect that. So, as every teacher does before an Ofsted inspection, I sat down with my laptop, looked at the lessons coming up and started to write down every tiny little aspect of it that I hadn’t written down; what I would do in a Ukulele lesson if one of the instruments needed tuning, how I would tune it while keeping the children engaged; how I would make sure that child who hates singing would be engaged with the song; what I would do to ensure that the child who is behind in class could catch up with the others. All these things I have always done in lessons by reacting to the situation as it happened. This time, I was ready before the lesson with a well-thought-out response, not just a reaction.
As a result of this, I experienced a set of lessons that went better than ever before. Nearly every scenario had been thought through previously and I was released from all those things to be able to focus on just engaging with the children, to entertain them as they learned and to make their learning and my teaching a whole lot more enjoyable.
I can confidently say that I have thoroughly enjoyed this Ofsted inspection. I have found a new standard of teaching and a new level of enjoyment for my job. The children I have the privilege of teaching every week now have a better version of me, a brighter version of my lessons and hopefully as a result, a better and brighter future. Roll on tomorrow.
Mr Tan the Music Man is a Music Teacher from Norwich, England and specializes in Primary Education. He has recently released a songbook that covers many popular Primary School topics and it includes teaching notes for non-musicians to be able to competently and confidently teach music to their class! Connect with him on twitter @mrtanthmusicman.