Crowdsourced GCSE tips
Teacher training courses often talk about pedagogies. With ‘research’ being something of a buzzword at the moment, we are all being encouraged to think about the ‘big picture’ of our work. Do we have a progression framework for KS3-5? What values are at the centre of our schemes of work? What strategies have we got in place for ‘closing the gap’? Quite rightly, teachers are being asked to think about their approach to teaching and learning.
In music education, we tend to be quite good at this. We’ve got Kodály, Suzuki, Musical Futures and a whole bunch of other approaches to teaching music.
Something that we could, perhaps, be a little better at is the simple act of sharing a few good tips. The traditional isolation of music teachers in small departments means that we rarely get to share tips with each other. Maybe that’s why the lunch breaks at INSET courses are so valuable – we share as many tips with each other as we can in one hour.
There is, however, one place where tips remain king – social media. With great character restrictions comes great brevity. On Twitter or Facebook, a question is much more likely to be answered with a tip than a pedagogy. It’s much easier to share a marking tip than to explain constructivism in 140 characters.
In an age of strategies and policies, perhaps it’s time to embrace social media’s leaning towards the value of a good, old-fashioned tip. Tips cause us to make small improvements to our work that lead to incremental improvement. Head teachers across the land are calling for strategic methods of collecting ‘marginal gains’ in GCSE results, so perhaps frontline teachers could consider a hands-on equivalent? If we gather enough tips, implement them and measure the resulting improvement, then we can all edge to being much better at what we do. Small changes and measuring gains is the strategy preferred by Silicon Valley giants like Google and Facebook, so perhaps we could learn something from this approach? Perhaps ‘tips implementation’ could be a pedagogy in its own right!
With that spirit in mind, I took to social media and asked music teachers about their top tips for teaching music at GCSE. There was no shortage of responses.
What follows is a curation of those tips, and a look at how they indicate general approaches to teaching. I haven’t judged these tips based on ‘quality’ but, instead, I’ve explained how they could be put into action in the classroom. Wherever possible, I’ve tried to balance out dramatically contrasting views by matching up seemingly contradictory tips. Nothing here should be taken as gospel. Get into that marginal gains mindset – try something out and measure the improvements.
Then share what you’ve learnt on social media – how about #MTMtips?