Why become a teacher?

Being a teacher has changed my life. I don’t think people quite understand why teaching is so important to me. When my students have a question, I’m always happy to give them an answer. When I see them succeed at learning a song or a small piece, I’m so proud. I’ve always been their number one fan. I’m rooting for them to succeed. And I hope that I can be their mentor. When they grow older, they can pass on the knowledge I gave to them.

Teaching has given me a purpose. I care about their progress and I know it’s my responsibility to help them as much as I can. This has changed my life for the better. I’ve grown to be responsible and I know my students can rely on me to be there for them.

Whenever I see pictures or videos of piano students, I feel a sense of awe. I can’t believe a teacher was able to teach them how to navigate this complex instrument! And I can’t believe I have been doing that for many years now! Behind every successful student, there is a great music teacher. I know I would be nowhere without my teacher. I am so blessed to be a teacher!

Sometimes I feel like my community is so small

I realized that the reason why I was feeling like blogging was going out of style was because I don’t interact with the blogging community enough. I just went through the discovery feed on WordPress and I found tons of great blogs that I would love reading. I felt like I was only experiencing a tiny sliver of what WordPress has to offer. I heard that WordPress has millions of users, but I only followed a few. I am going to connect with the community more and continue to explore. The WordPress community is big! And I’m excited to read amazing blog posts!

I’m getting search engine recognition

I think it’s finally time to announce that my blog is showing up on search engines. I’ve come a long way with my blogs. I feel like they’re not just hobbies anymore. They’ve become more than that. They’re almost like extensions of myself. I’ve spent a lot of time building and writing these blogs. And I’m very happy with the results. My blog is now showing up on search engines like google and bing. I didn’t know when the time would come when this would happen, but I’m excited. I’ve been blogging for awhile and it’s easy to forget about these small milestones. I hope to continue to make more successes with these blogs! Thank you for all the support along the way! 🙏

How to survive long days as a teacher

Hi everyone 👋 it has been awhile, but I’m trying my best to be consistent in blogging. To be honest, I feel like I’ve already written about all I could possibly write about. And I have no more new ideas. I want to write more though, so I’m going to keep thinking of new blog post ideas. Today’s post is going to be about how to survive long days as a teacher. I’m going to be working for most of the day tomorrow and I thought it would be nice to share how I prepare/survive for these long days. Let’s get right to it.

I feel like I am the queen of coffee lately. I can’t go a day without it and I’m beginning to think that I wouldn’t be able to achieve all of my goals for the day without the help of coffee. That’s just my honest opinion about myself. I’m an addict. I use the McDonald’s app to get $1 coffees in the morning, and I also have Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts reward apps. If I’m really struggling by the end of the day, I’ll drink a second coffee. I’m not ashamed. If you ever wonder how I manage to work, study, and go to the gym every day… the answer is caffeine.

Another thing I try to do is to stack all of my lessons back to back to one another. I used to love down time, but I’ve changed. I’m now more interested in getting as much done in a day. If I have too many breaks in between lessons, I feel like my day is too long. This is an advantage for someone who manages their own schedule. I like to feel the pressure of going to the next lesson. And that makes my days go dramatically way faster.

I use Spotify and pandora during my drives. I don’t think I could be as productive as I am without the help of Spotify. I listen to stations that are test related. And I listen to Pandora when I’m tired. Music makes the time go by faster.

The last thing I do is just trying to relax. I’m not a strict teacher. I tried to be as laid back as I can because I don’t want to be bored during the lesson either. If I know I have a lot of lessons, I will create a game or include something fun to do. I’ll do this for Tuesday’s, Wednesday’s, and Saturday’s. It makes the lesson time go by faster and in return, my students also get to have fun learning.

My LinkedIn Group for All Teachers and Aspiring Teaching Professionals

I want to share with my blog an exciting opportunity to join my LinkedIn group for Pocketful of Learning. My focus is to help teachers become better at their job and to help them gain the fluency they need. When you’ve been teaching for awhile, there are skills and tasks that you can do faster than other beginning teachers.

I hope to help as many teachers as I can. The link is here: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/13774608

Thanks!

My Holiday Teaching Plans

This year, I’m going to do something a little different than I usually do. I promise I’m a good teacher. I always invent new games and activities for my students. And I hand out plenty of surprises. This year, however, I want to make it a little more special. I’m planning on celebrating Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. I never celebrate Halloween or Thanksgiving. I just don’t. And I want to change. I want to constantly strive to be a better teacher for my students. I’m planning some surprises for my students this year and I’m very excited.

For Halloween, I’ve already bought spooky candy that I’m going to hand out during lessons. And I want to have them do a “candy cane challenge” to see who can learn the most songs. I think I’ll have them compete against my other students. There should also be a bonus challenge on who practices the most or who improved the most by Christmas. I want to get them excited about learning. I used to have a star challenge where they earn stars for practicing and they can redeem the stars for a gift. This year, I’m still brainstorming, but I want to do something similar. I was also thinking of having students try the challenge to learn a set of songs I picked. And they have to play them perfectly to earn a Christmas gift. I have so many ideas, and I want to implement them all.

I’m still brainstorming on what to do for Thanksgiving. I’m thinking on giving a worksheet packet and using that as a token to get candy. It’s really easy to reward kids because they like candy or they like toys.

I’m also hoping that this will make me excited for the holidays. I love this time of year and I’ve always wanted to share it with my students. I’m thinking of getting them Christmas books as their Christmas presents because they keep asking for them. And I want to make them piano ornaments! There are so many ideas!

Let me know what you think and what you do for your students during this time of year! 🌲 ❄️

Resources for the new teacher

I remember my first days of being a new teacher. I didn’t own any extra books. I only had one pencil and one pen. And nothing else really. It was tough. I made my own calendar by drawing lines. I mostly didn’t know what to do or how to organize anything. I was completely new to being a teacher. And I didn’t receive any supplies from anybody. I had to purchase all of my own supplies and come up with all of my own techniques. Now, on the internet, people are sharing their teaching methods everywhere and it is much easier. Back then, it wasn’t as easy.

I learned a lot of my techniques through joining a Facebook group tailored specifically for piano teachers. Whenever I had a problem, I asked other teachers. And this helped a lot. They talked me through many of the initial problems new teachers go through. I feel like I am stronger now because of the support from that group. I’m still a member of that group and I’ve began helping other new teachers. I’m the mentor and it feels great to help other teachers. The advice is free. And they are always willing to help.

I found that there are some apps that you can use on your phone to make teaching easier. In my first couple of years, I was obsessed with using apps and I’ve began to drift away from them. I still use a metronome and tuning app though. Those are my favorites. I would stay away from all other apps because they can be distracting for students. I prefer to have my students learn from a book rather than staring at a screen. In addition to using apps, I’ve found that google is a great resource for looking up musical terms. I have my own pocket dictionary of musical terms that includes all composers, but google is a great resource in the beginning of your teaching career also.

If you have a smartphone, I suggest using text messages to communicate with piano families. It’s much more convenient and you can access it wherever you go. Use technology to your advantage and always look for new ways to maximize your time.

Supplies and books were always a huge obstacle for me. I was always short in supplies until I started making more money. I used secondhand items until I could afford my own. When I discovered the dollar store, everything changed. It’s much cheaper and I would strictly shop from there for supplies. I’ve found that buying supplies from amazon in big bulks is helpful too. My students are always using all of my supplies, so I need a lot for my backup. I shop at my local music store for books because I get a teacher discount, but amazon is great for buying books too. I would go to music stores and ask for their teacher discounts. I’ve found that students can also use my discount because their under my teacher account.

I joined the teachers music association two years ago and it is one of the best decisions I’ve made. They put your name on the teacher directory so other schools can find you if they need a teacher. They provide free resources and books. I went to a music book sale and bought a lot of books because they offered it. And they donated me more books too. I can also offer my students more extra curricular activities. I’ve found it to be a very valuable resource. And I met other teachers too.

I used Facebook neighborhood groups to advertise for my lessons. And the amount of calls I got was way more than other forms of advertisements. Facebook is an amazing resource for advertising and you can also create your own Facebook page for your music studio.

If you want to give your students a great experience, that’s really great. It’s expensive though. And we don’t always have the money for it. I’ve found ways to make small gifts in cheap ways by looking online. And I make my own music flash cards with plain notecards. There are many great resources and things you can do for your students that are cost effective. You just have to be creative.

YouTube is a great resource for learning about teaching. I learned more about teaching techniques and materials by watching YouTube videos. And I also have my students listen to their piano songs on YouTube before learning it. It’s a great free resource to have on the go.

If you don’t know, Spotify offers free podcasts to listen to. And if you have a gmail account, you can access word document and excel sheets for free. I’ve made lecture slides for my students through google drive. And I’ve also printed free domain music sheets online. If you’re using your books for private use, you can photocopy your music sheets for students. I would stockpile all of my good music and my books for reuse for all of my students. Having multiple students use a performance book or a sightreading book can dramatically cut costs.

If you’re anything like me, you need lots of coffee. I’ve found that Starbucks offers an account to earn free drinks and food. I use that frequently to earn stars. I also have a Dunkin’ Donuts card to earn points. If you have the McDonald’s app, the large coffees are only $1 and you can earn free coffee there too. I use the curbside pickup to save time. And the breakfast sandwiches are a penny too. I always grab food there early before my lessons or during my breaks. If you’re looking for lunch, download the Sonics app and you get access to happy hour 24/7. All drinks are half off and they offer deals on there too. If you have a smoothie king account, they offer a rewards system. If you want $2 extra when you sign up, you can use my referral link here. If you exercise at a gym, they might offer extra discounts for smoothies at tropical smoothie. All of us teachers are always looking for good drinks and food. I hope that helps.

Once you get started teaching, you’ll get better at being a teacher. And many things will become reflexive the more you do it. There are so many resources available and I hope you take advantage of it all. Keep researching and working hard!

Seven Quick and Easy Tips for New Teachers

If you’re a new teacher, you know the anxiety of starting your teaching career. What do you buy? What do you absolutely need? What is the budget like? I want to give you some quick advice if you’re a new teacher. We all need some help once in awhile:

1. Don’t buy a lot of supplies. You won’t need them all your first year, and you’ll end up stockpiling junk later on.

2. You don’t have to participate in all of the holidays and birthdays. It’s okay to relax your first year and not celebrate holidays like Easter. It’s not necessary. And you’ll need to save money later on anyways.

3. Don’t buy too many rewards/incentives! I’m still using up my stickers I bought three years ago. Buy them as you go and I suggest going to the dollar store to buy them. It’s much cheaper there.

4. You’ll figure out things as you go. Take a deep breath and find solace in the fact that we all have to start somewhere. Teaching is a learning process. You’ll get better at it as you go.

5. Don’t copy other peoples’ ideas. Create your own instead. Think about the best ideas that fit your personality and do it. It’s easy to get caught up in other teachers’ stuff, but it’s easy to just focus on yourself. If you are unique, your students will value you more. They won’t be able to find another teacher like you!

6. Know that you’ll have tough students pretty often. And learn not to take it personally. Be firm, but try not to be mean. It’s important to not let them overstep your authority.

7. Enjoy teaching. It’s easy to get caught up in the technicalities and the curriculum. Remember that your students are young pupils that are in their adolescence. Being too strict can be more harmful than beneficial. Let them laugh and share a joke or two!

Busy busy busy

I’m so tired right now and my weekend just started. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to relax. I’ve been going through ups and downs of being busy. Time flies when you’re too busy. I’m looking forward to just relaxing my mind for the weekend. Every teacher needs a break before burnout happens. I’m glad I still have energy to update my blog. I hope everyone is having a great weekend 👍